Tasty Beaver Droppings? You Bet.


Shellac is a resin secreted from the female lac bug, a red beetle found in Thailand. It's used for wood varnish, nail polish, gramophone records and...jelly beans. Sold as dry flakes, the resin is dissolved in ethanol to become a food glaze. 


Beavers' anal and urinary secretions happen to smell like vanilla. Can you see where this is going? 

Castoreum specifically comes from the castor sac, located underneath the Beaver tail. In raw form, it's called Russian Leather, until it is bathed in alcohol to smell 'musky.' The material is then used in perfumes, and also: raspberry and strawberry ice cream. The FDA does not allow Castoreum to be used in vanilla flavoring, but raspberry's fine. Because, apparently, if your favorite flavor is raspberry, you're a lesser being int he eyes of the State. 

Cochineal Bugs

Have you ever eaten Red Food Dye 4? It's red velvet cake, hard candies, jams, maraschino cherries, and almost any food that is artificially died red.  

The cochineal beetle is dried, crushed, then dunked in alcohol to make carmine acid. It is a 'natural flavoring' in the United States. But, it takes 70,000 bugs to produce a pound of dye.

Starbucks was heavily criticized for using the beetle in its drinks and whoopie pies. It since has changed the food dye. 

Isinglass, Fish Bladders

Used for glue, parchment restoration...and the development of beer and wine. The swim bladders of fish are used as a 'fining' to clear up the murkiness in beer. Isinglass congeals into a jelly-like putty at the button of the beer, and is then fished out. However, Guinness has reported that you still drink 'some' fish bladder. 

Heard of any other culinary horror stories? Comment below.

Abigail ManginComment