If you’re a kid, then you’ve likely seen blue raspberry ice pops. This oddly colored slushie is a delicious and fun treat, but you may not be familiar with its origins.
Back in the mid-20th century, Cincinnati food outfit Gold Medal invented this strange color. They did so hoping to draw attention to their raspberry flavored snow cones.
Blue raspberry, one of the most iconic flavors in American pop culture, first popped up in the ’70s. It was created by ice cream company ICEE, who wanted to differentiate their popsicles from their red cherry-flavored counterparts.
As ICEE Vice President of Marketing Susan Woods explains, a food dye called FD&C Blue No. 1 was used to create the icy treat’s distinctive shade of blue.
The bright shade of the dye (which resembles the brand’s logo) helped make it a visual differentiator, and it was also safe for consumption. But the dye itself was banned in 1976, after a study discovered that it was highly addictive and potentially cancerous.
That left the food coloring industry looking for a safer, less-toxic alternative. It was only a matter of time before someone found a suitable color that didn’t carry any health risks. Eventually, it was found that a little white bark raspberry — a species native to western North America — could be the perfect match for blueberry blast!
In the world of frozen treats, gummy candy, and ice cream, Blue Raspberry is a surprisingly familiar flavor. It’s found in everything from 7-Eleven Slurpees to Pop-Tarts and ice cream.
In 1970, a company called the ICEE Company rolled out a blue raspberry ICEE that paved the way for blue raspberry-flavored candies and other frozen treats to follow suit. It used the same ingredients as a raspberry flavored treat, but with a different dye that produced an electric blue color we’ve come to love.
But what’s the story behind this strange, electric blue shade? That’s a good question, and it’s one that foodie lore tells us has to do with an obscure fruit species: Rubus leucodermis.
Raspberries are not just delicious, they’re also healthy and packed with a variety of nutrients. They’re high in fiber, potassium and vitamin C, and are an excellent source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants help protect the body from harmful substances called free radicals that can cause a wide range of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. They are found naturally in foods like raspberries, but you can get them from supplements too.
In addition to antioxidants, the berries are high in flavonoids and anthocyanins. These phytochemicals may help to slow down the aging process and protect the brain, according to research.
But, that’s not the only reason that blue raspberry flavor is so common in snacks and ice pops. It actually came to prominence in the 1970s, thanks to a food dye developed to make ice pops stand out from their red-colored cousins.
Blue raspberry is a fruit-tastic flavor that can be found in soda, ice pops and slushies. It’s also a popular flavoring that can be used to make a variety of sweet and sour treats.
In the early 1970s, ice pop makers faced the problem of how to distinguish cherry, strawberry, watermelon and raspberry flavors. They solved this conundrum by using artificial food dyes to add color.
These colors helped consumers tell the differences between flavors, but they also raised questions about FD&C Red No. 2 — a common wine-red dye — which caused many people to have reactions.
It was eventually revealed that this food additive was dangerous, and the public began to question its safety. So, ice pop companies turned to a bright blue dye that wasn’t quite as close to the real thing as the blueberry, but did create the electric blue color they needed.
It didn’t take long for blue raspberry to become a fixture in the sweet realm, popping up everywhere from ice creams and Slurpees to Jolly Ranchers. It’s still ICEE’s top-selling flavor, with more than 132 million 16-ounce blue raspberry ICEEs sold each year.