by Justin Gammill
After all of the research that has gone into the food articles I’ve been writing, I have to admit that there are more things on my “List of Stuff to Never Put in my Mouth” than there has ever been. Razor blades, small woodland creatures, marbles, and burning embers are now joined by anything from McDonalds, Subway, Burger King, or Arby’s. Admittedly, that’s probably a good thing, but one such item that got added to the list recently really hurt.
See, out there in the food universe, there is a fun little ingredient called Castoreum. A seemingly innocent enough looking word since there is no questionable “-izine” at the end of it. “Hey can you pass the Castoreum?” sounds perfectly normal. Well, take it from me, you don’t want to pass the Castoreum, you want to throw it out the nearest window … possibly after lighting it on fire.
Castoreum is literally a secretion from the anal glands of a mature North American beaver. For the sake of conversation, we’ll just go ahead and call it Beaver Butt Juice, because that makes me giggle. I wish I was making this up, because the idea of putting beaver butt juice on anything other than a beaver recliner or beaver toilet paper is pretty disgusting. Unfortunately it’s a common ingredient whose most common use is for vanilla flavoring. Normally you’d expect people to try to prevent the anal secretions from a beaver from getting into your food, but not in this case. Beaver butt juice is FDA approved, and is listed as “natural flavoring” on most food labels. I can respect that, “natural flavoring” sounds better than “exudate from the castor sacs of the mature North American Beaver”. But wait, my beloved Blue Bell has “Natural flavoring” listed in its ingredients … Have I been Beaver Butt Juiced? I’ll never know!
Well, It’s official Blue Bell Ice Cream, you’ve broken my heart…
I guess I shouldn’t single you out Blue Bell, you might not be the only one. Those crazy creamers Ben and Jerry might use it. Those silly Danish-sounding guys over at Häagen-Dazs might use it. Heck, even the weirdo’s over at Breyers might be slinging beaver butt juice around like Columbian drug lords. But I thought we had something special Blue Bell. You were always there in my childhood; at birthdays, holidays, school functions, everything. You covered my brownie. You accompanied my cake. You cooled me on hot days. Only for me to discover that after all these years you may have been beaver butt juiced up.
This is one of those rare chances in life where I will take the synthetic man-made alternative, Vanillin in this case, over the “All Natural” approach. Even with this being said, I guarantee you that there is some hippy out there that will read this and say “Wow, I’m only eating Blue Bell now because it’s all natural”. Have at it, buddy, the Vegans and I will pass. Well, the vegan is going to pass no matter what unless it’s soy ice cream; because heaven forbid we torture the poor cows by milking them. I don’t know if the beavers enjoy being “juiced”, I haven’t heard back from their press agent, but the vegans usually don’t think anything is good. Ever. And I’m pretty sure they hate puppies, freedom, and roller coasters too.
Random Side Note: Next time you think you hate your job, at that very moment there is a guy squeezing juice out of a beaver’s butt so that your ice cream is extra vanilla-y. All the sudden being the head cashier at the Dollar Store isn’t so bad…