Something I’ve noticed being linked lately: a revelation that the flavor of orange juice doesn’t actually come from the orange juice.

Once the juice is squeezed and stored in gigantic vats, they start removing oxygen. Why? Because removing oxygen from the juice allows the liquid to keep for up to a year without spoiling. But! Removing that oxygen also removes the natural flavors of oranges. Yeah, it’s all backwards. So in order to have OJ actually taste like oranges, drink companies hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that make perfumes for Dior, to create these “flavor packs” to make juice taste like, well, juice again.

This must have been a relatively recent development, because I distinctly recall in my childhood times where a container of orange juice, left in the refrigerator too long (probably because someone didn’t listen when I requested it not be shaken because I gag on the pulp — “juice” implies a liquid, I can’t stand the sensation of chunks of slurry suddenly appearing in my drink — so after that point I stopped drinking it) took on a funny smell.  It wasn’t as bad as spoiled milk, which ironically itself isn’t as bad as not-spoiled buttermilk, but it was a distinct scent that said “pour me out” nonetheless.

As I type this, I realize I have a carton of orange juice in the fridge right now.  Pulp free, of course.  While I avoid those “juice cocktail” drinks that are mostly corn syrup, the aforementioned re-tasting applies to products that are labeled 100% juice, and I’ve never noticed anything off about it.  I suppose if I wanted Teh Mad Real O.G. OJ I could just purchase some oranges and juice them myself, but that involves 1) extra effort, 2) purchase of other kitchen utensils, and 3) that damn pulp.  Besides, wouldn’t it be a super-huge let-down if you went to all that trouble only to find you couldn’t taste a difference worthy of the effort?  Yes, there would be a difference in sheer freshness, but is the difference between a penny and a dollar, or a penny and a nickel?  Hell, what if I juice some oranges, get rid of the pulp, and take a drink, only to decide that I actually prefer the fake 100% juice to the real 100% juice?

While I much prefer knowing about these kind of things, and will gladly pay the extra for more authentic when I have it to spare and feel that it makes a difference (I prefer purchasing Mexican food from Mexican restaurants run by Mexicans with Mexicans cooking, for example), if I don’t notice then going the extra mile strikes me as some form of reverse-psychology hipsterism — “sure, on the meat of the matter it’s negligible, but I will sink this additional cost as a signifier of just how much I give a damn, even though I don’t”.

Speaking of mass-produced stuff and its promotion, those commercials implying that if you drink Horse Piss Labeled as “Beer” brand A vs Horse Piss Labeled as “Beer” brand B you are less of a man were stupid to begin with, now they make me want to smack someone over the head with a bottle of Arrogant Bastard.  After drinking the contents, because even their skull isn’t worthy.


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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4 Responses to Synthesizers

  1. Todd S. says:

    Well, the OJ in your fridge smells bad after a while (smells like rising yeast) because it has been exposed to oxygen and the sugars are now starting to ferment. Their intent is to store it for long periods in an oxygen-free environment before it gets to the store shelves; oranges only come in season a couple times per year and only grow in certain climates so there isn’t much wiggle room for spreading out growing seasons.

    The area I live used to be known as the “citrus capital of the world”, but that was 30 years ago. 3/4 of the orange groves have been plowed-over in favor of subdivisions. (about half of which are just big open areas with one or two houses these days). There are still a few juice processing plants around, but you can only smell them a few times a year. There are also several of these flavoring companies nearby, MasterTaste being one example that happens to be across the street from my favorite watering hole. You can smell them brewing a little more often.

  2. B Psycho says:

    Oh, yeah…that’s how they make hooch in prison, I saw an episode of “lockup” where someone did it, forgot.

    From your link:

    Mastertaste, Inc.[…] offers flavors, such as apple add-backs, apple essence, butter extenders, char-grill flavors, cheese and dairy, citrus add-backs, cocoa flavor extenders, grapefruit alternatives, maskers and modifiers, salt enhancers, sweetness enhancers, and sugar extenders.

    …”butter extenders”? I assume that’s a microwave popcorn thing.

    I remember one time being curious how “liquid smoke” type marinades are made (I smoke stuff for real whenever I get the chance, even using an indoor smoker at times. The liquid is strictly for ground beef when doing burgers or meatloaf). Looked it up, and the basic process is just passing smoke through water. Weirdly, the cheaper kind actually has other ingredients…eh?

  3. Would a rose, jammed in your eyesocket but by another name, taste as sweet? Maybe. I’m not going to ask about butter extenders, though. Way too creepy. Much better to find a nearby petting zoo with cow.

  4. B Psycho says:

    “Mommy, what’s that man doing?” 🙂

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