Bugs, Butt, and Other Weird Food Additives You’ve Probably Eaten Today

weird-food-additives

People are willing to eat all kinds of weird stuff, but often we’re eating all kinds of weird stuff when we think we’re eating something totally normal. Like gum. Or Jell-O. But hey, if it tastes delicious, what’s the harm in a little secretion from a pig’s anus? Here are 10 very weird things manufacturers put in very normal-seeming food. Now pass the anus candy.

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Artificial Raspberry Flavoring Comes From Beaver Butt Juice

beaver-butt-juice

Yes, it’s pretty effin’ weird that one of the things that makes artificial raspberry flavoring in sodas and candy taste raspberry-y is castoreum, something that is exuded from a beaver’s anal glands. What’s even weirder is that this discovery was the result of somebody venturing to taste a beaver’s anal gland secretions.

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 Crushed Beetles: Tons of Red Food Products

beetles

One of the most commonly used ingredients in red food coloring is flakes of mashed-up beetles, and not the kind of mashed-up Beatles Danger Mouse did when he combined The White Album with Jay-Z’s Black Album. Still, we’re willing to bet that Ringo loves him some red velvet cake.

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Dog Vagina Pheromones: Beer and Wine

dog-vagina

Ever wonder why Spuds McKenzie loved beer so much? Beer and wine often contain a preservative called methylparaben, which, in addition to keeping booze fresh, is also a pheromone found in dog’s vaginas. Does that make us all Eskimo brothers with Spuds?

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Sheep Juice: Gumballs

sheep-juice

Often referred to as “gum base”, the stuff that makes your favorite gumball so gummy is actually a substance known as lanolin, which is an oil found in sheep’s wool. Interestingly, that makes gum yet another instance of lamb going great with mint.

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Shellac: Jellybeans

shellac-jelly-beans

More bug secretions! This one begs a very important question: would you rather be cool with eating something coated with a resin often used in furniture polish, or would you rather eat not-shiny jellybeans? We know you know the answer to that.

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Hair: Bread

bread-hair

Bread, like the glorious mane of one Carrot Top, needs to be bouncy and moist. So it should be no surprise that mass-produced bread products are baked with hair… more specifically, through an amino acid called L-cysteine, which is most commonly extracted from hair, but can also be found in feathers. Carrot cake, anyone?

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Polydimethylsiloxane: Chicken Nuggets

chicken-nuggets

This silicone product is pure magic, showing up in everything from Silly Putty to Pamela Anderson’s boobs. It also shows up in chicken nuggets, where it acts as a bonding agent for those chicken parts. Sadly, it fails to explain why you can’t copy newsprint by pressing a McNugget against it.

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Sand: Chili

sand-chili

You ever eat a cake made of sand? Hell no, you say!? That’s because sand is an anti-caking agent. It’s also used in mass-produced chili, kind of like the stuff sold by a certain fast-food chain with a red-headed mascot who looks like she’s never set food on a beach in her life.

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Bones: Jell-O

bones-jello

Ever see Bill Cosby hanging out with hardcore vegans? Let’s wildly speculate that it’s because the Cos shills a delicious treat that has ground bones and skin as one of its ingredients. So, technically and despite its jiggly nature, Jell-O kinda has a bone structure. Oh, and you might wanna avoid non-vegan sugar, as well.

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Beef Fat: Twinkies

beef-fat-twinkies

Beef: it’s what’s for dinner. And apparently dessert, because one of the things that makes Twinkies one of the most enduring (hell, they even resurrected them) and delicious snacks is beef fat. Which explains why you never see vegans eating Twinkies with Bill Cosby, actually. This conspiracy runs DEEP.

 

Andy Kryza is Thrillist’s National Eat/Drink Senior Editor, and has proudly lived vegetable-free since 2001. Follow his adventures/slow decline via Twitter at @apkryza.



Thrillist is a trusted recommendation voice in food, drink and travel for men across the world.



In this article:
  • Anonymous

    Pretty sure that’s not a picture of chili, next to sand.

    • Linda Lovelush

      Looks more like Kung Pao Chicken… sans the peanuts.

  • Ratsqueezer

    Water is the primary component of urine. Water is the primary component of blood. Therefore, you have urine coursing through your circulatory system.

    This is the reasoning you’re using in this article.

  • Anonymous

    The sand is probably the least appalling ingredient in the bunch. Knew about the crushed bugs being in most foods with red dye. That said, my fondness for raspberry-flavored foods just took something of a downturn.

    • Pamela Wright

      Read some of the more recent comments. The scent gland of the beaver (not anal gland) does secrete a substance that can be a flavor enhancer, but many foods these days use an artificial version of castoria. (Not related to castor oil, which comes from the castor bean.)

  • cjb

    I think I’d rather have any of those items in my food than some of the artificial crap!

  • BossBass7o7 .

    Every year someone come out with this exact, same “news.” Enough already, we all know we are eating bugs, hair & dandruff. So you can either deal with it or starve to death.

  • Sam Oldman

    For the LAST FRIGGIN’ TIME… Aritifical Raspberry and Vanilla flavorings ARE NOT MADE FROM BEAVER BUTT JUICES. Castoreum and other similar flavorings are CHEAP and EASY to synthesize. NOBODY uses beaver castoreum as a flavoring. Do journalists these days even try to do their research anymore? Or do they just believe everything they read in Reddit’s TIL section?

    • Anonymous

      Sensationalism at its finest.

    • The Captain

      Frankly I’m disappointed; believing I was consuming beaver butt juice was the only reason I liked artificial raspberry flavor.

  • dick johnson

    Shellac is a resin coming from the Lac bug found in india and thailand.

  • http://chinasweat.blogspot.com/ Mike Lovett

    Complete and utter rubbish. Absolutely none of the fantastical food additives listed here are true.

    • Raoul

      Carmine (beetles) is true, that’s about it.

  • Pamela Wright

    It is not an “anal gland” it is a scent gland *near* the anus, and it is a flavor enhancer, not a replacement for any one flavor. Jello doesn’t contain bones and skin, it contains collagen, which is found in bone, fingernails, and skin, but it traditionally is taken from bone marrow. The bones are ground up and cooked to produce the blubbery collagen, which is so considerably processed, that it is no longer considered a meat product by the USDA or FDA.(Not all gelatin does, but this is the traditional way it’s made. SEE snopes.com/food/ingredient/jello.asp

    While L-cysteine may be found in hair and feathers, it can also be synthesized artificially, so if the product says kosher or halal, it’s a synthetic version. SEE Wikipedia

    Those chicken parts are not “bound together” by silicone. Polydimethylsiloxane is used in the *oil* they are cooked in at the restaurant, to prevent foaming. While you may be concerned it might soak into the chicken nugget (doesn’t bother me, but I get it might bother you) it is definitely not added to the nugget as a binding agent. It really wasn’t hard to find this info. I’m surprised that Foodbeast didn’t do this research.
    SEE nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/ingredientslist.pdf

  • Cooper Daniel

    Some of the additives are synthesized but Jello and gelatin products are hardcore by products of skin, bones & connective tissue from all sorts of animal waste products including road kill, slaughterhouses & dead pets.