Do you read food labels and nod in approval when you read the words “natural flavorings”? Do you like that your baked goods have that fresh vanilla aroma? Do you know where these flavorings and scents come from? Would it surprise you to learn that the sources for some of these vanilla-scented flavorings are the anal passages of beavers?
Close your mouth; it’s true–the anal passages of beavers.
“How can this be?” You ask. Well, it started with the Swedes, who as it turns out, are good at other things besides massages, meatballs and Volvos. They learned decades ago how to use the fragrant beaver’s anal passages to get those natural flavorings.
Honestly, I’m not sure how this came about. Did a Swedish chef wake up one day and say to his spouse, “I think I will go into the woods today and sniff some beaver butts and see if I can use the fragrance in my pastries”?
And what would his spouse’s response to this be?
“Okay, dear, but don’t be too late. We have to put together our coffee table from IKEA today.”
It does not sound plausible; yet, it is true – not the chef in the woods part– just the beaver butt part.
Anyway, before everyone jumps on the Swedes for being gross, know that beaver anal passages scent or the technical term, Castoreum, is in other countries as well, and in fact, the FDA in the United States has labeled it as a Generally Recognized as Safe food or (GRAS) additive. If you don’t know where the beaver butt expressions might be located in your food supply, think anything that has a vanilla flavor such as beverages and baked goods and for those of you who smoke–cigarettes.
So, what can we learn from this? (And before anyone thinks I am not aware of the plethora of double entendres that can come from this post, let me just interject and say this right now: I have cable… I get the smut jokes.)
We can learn three things:
1. Next time you see a beaver sitting in the woods, stop by and say thank you or at least give him a stick to help build his dams.
2. A cigarette habit is a lot easier to break knowing you might be inhaling beaver butt with each puff.
3. We all better pray that the old adage “You are what you eat” is NOT true.