November 15, 2020

Secret Ingredients in Everyday Food

Red Velvet Cake Mix And Many Other Red Foods Are Made With Ground-Up Beetles

If you’ve ever tried to make a solid red cake icing or red cake mix, you know that you usually just end up with something pink. It’s so hard to get that solid red coloring when attempting to make a red food, but thankfully science got ahead of that problem a long time ago. They just didn’t tell you that one of the best ways to get that color is to crush up some bugs.

Cochineal dye is the technical term for it, but that ingredient is a byproduct of bugs, dried and crushed up. Lord only knows how they figured out this peculiar usage, but when that dried beetle powder meets water, it makes a red pigment unlike any other. Red velvet cake, sausages, and even candy can contain cochineal dye. The little beetles feast off of a certain type of cactus in American deserts, and produce the dye in their stomachs to keep predators away. And you have the gift of the fruits of their efforts in your own stomach.