Color Me Blue

This color stuff is fun. So why not press on a little? I’m on the road so I can’t bake, and I have a fair amount of waiting around to do. Sounds like a recipe for jabber, no?

Blue No. 1, also known as Brilliant Blue FCF is one of the most popular colors in the world, but most people hear very little about it. Why? Because it doesn’t appear by itself very often. It’s mostly used in combination with others, especially Yellow No. 5, to make various shades of green. The reason for that, because blue is something of a turn-off when it comes to the human appetite. In fact studies have show that we’re instinctively averse to it.

Whereas bright reds, yellows, oranges and greens signal ripeness to our brains, colors in the blue, purple and black family signal the opposite. Molds are blue, fungi are blue…the often toxic stuff that grows on old food as it rots. Yuck. And so we’re disposed to avoiding that color. Blue and purple hues have been proven to suppress hunger, which is why dieticians frequently counsel people who wish to lose weight to eat from blue plates, or put a blue light bulb in their refrigerator. Somewhere, something deep down inside us says “blechhhh”.

Blue also isn’t used that much because, to be frank, it comes out fairly unchanged on the far end of our intake pipes. Exactly why is a bit of a mystery, since other than looking different, most pigment molecules have very similar structures, and should at least theoretically digest the same way. But changing a toddler’s diaper after they’ve eaten a big bowl of a Boo Berry cereal can be an alarming experience. It’s why my daughters now eat Cheerios.

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14 Responses to Color Me Blue

  1. Tora says:

    haha! This is really interesting! I am drawn to blue candy, but I suppose that is because of my previous experiences with it! I bet my body is instinctively dreading it! Cool!

  2. Sandra says:

    I’ve never made a red velvet cake, but once I did make a Tardis cake (Dr Who, British SF series). It looked like a kitchen sponge, and we soon discovered it stayed that blue “all the way through.”

    • joepastry says:

      Oh you don’t have to qualify the Tardis reference here. I’m a geek, I know exactly what that is. And Tom Baker rules, by the way.

      - Joe

    • GeekLady says:

      Sandra, we had the same experience, only for us, it was the frosting that was blue. That gastronomical discovery was horrifying and I haven’t dared color nothing intensely blue since.

  3. Tom says:

    I conducted my own experiment about this when I was a teenager. I had been baking a cake about once a week for the family, and the cake would usually be gone in one or two days. Once I dyed the frosting blue.

    Two weeks later, I threw most of it out.

  4. Linda says:

    Friend of mine used to make Jello eggs for Easter. Oddly enough I liked the flavor of the blue ones over all the others but I found it offensive to eat blue food so I would try not to look at it while I ate it. Blue seems an unnatural color for food but there are blue foods like blueberries that are quite appealing and tasty. I definitely fall into the camp (think that was noted in your colors blog) of an adverse reaction to any colored food that doesn’t come by the color naturally. It’s rare you talk me into coloring any baked item or the frosting either. We host a cookie decorating day from time to time and I have to stay far from the table while they use all those colors on the cookies. Just not my thing.

  5. Ellen says:

    How about blue corn? I’ve seen blue corn tortilla chips and I know that Hopi piki bread is made from blue cornmeal.

    • Stephanie says:

      I LOVE blue corn tortilla chips and taco shells for the flavor, but I do have to admit that the color isn’t as appealing as the regular fare.

      But it had never dawned on me before…

    • joepastry says:

      That’s true. And there are blueberries and such. Here George Carlin’s old “blue food” routine comes to mind. I’m not saying there isn’t any blue food at all, just not very much compared to red, yellow, green and brown.

      Thanks Ellen!

      - Joe

  6. Bob says:

    I always wondered why raspberry popsicles are blue. I never saw a blue raspberry.

  7. Annemarie says:

    My husband learned this lesson after a sambucca overload last Saturday night.

    I’ve also made a Tardis cake! It was a long long time ago now and I can’t remember whether it got eaten or not.

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