So, a couple of weeks, National Geographic posted this article about how secretions from beaver bums are used for vanilla flavorings. They appear in everything from the aforementioned cookies to ice cream to candles. Ah, yes, breathe in and smell the warm, homey feel of vanilla. Or a beaver bum. Let your mind fly as you think of all the possibilities to how we knew beaver bums smelled like this humble scent. Yes, go there.
Generally, anal discharge stink because of odor-causing bacterium, but this one doesn’t, because of the beavers' special diet of bark and leaves. The castoreum is extracted from the animal after it has been anesthetized. Next, the brown goo, with the consistency of molasses, goes through a rigorous refining process. Only then can it be used as an FDA-approved food additive. Because it’s classified as such, it can be mentioned either as vanilla flavoring or just natural flavoring in the product ingredient list.
Great, right? This means we have no way of knowing which products use this and which ones don't. Even some of the manufacturers aren't sure. But look how cute he is.
Happy beginning of holiday season.
Oh, yeah, that “new car smell?” It’s castoreum mixed in with birch tar oil.