Why doesn't banana candy taste like bananas?

Granted, the Gros Michael contained more isoamyl acetate (the compound found in artificial banana flavoring) than the current Caviendish banana. But isoamyl acetate is only one of thousands of compounds in either, so artificial banana flavoring doesn’t taste like either one.

One might claim that grape Life Savers taste more like Concord grapes than common table grapes, and that may well be true. But neither of those real grapes (or any other grape for that matter) taste much like grape Life Savers. Same with bananas. Or any other fruit.

Although it does contain a grain of truth, the basic premise of the video is false, Science Friday has a nice article on this topic explaining the history of the artificial banana flavor, which predated the introduction of the banana in the US by at least a decade.

BTW, if you have an issue with a Wikipedia article, you can take it up with the editors. And find that they are much more responsive than the editors here.

As others said above, you can still get them. You can even grow (Gros? nyuk nyuk) them yourself.

They went away because they can’t be grown at scale anymore. They immediately all get sick and die. A few plants here and there will do okay though.

Work is being done to make a new GMO varietal that is a Gros Michel, but resistant to the fungus that kills them, though. So they may come back someday.


Perhaps the better question, at this point, is why does banana candy still taste nothing like bananas?

I have to assume that the fun-loving food chemists over in the flavorplex have had ample time to cook up something that aims to emulate currently-extant banana strains; rather than one that is extinct for commercial purposes; so why doesn’t that flavor get the nod at least on some occasions?

Did the old bananas just taste better, so there’s no demand for an imitation of ones that taste worse? Does the public now expect a specific taste out of artificial banana and so will reject a change?

my thought is that folks have only ever tasted the mass market varietal, the Cavendish, a pale, flavorless fruit compared to the more robustly flavored cousins (IMO).
i personally like the locally grown manzana bananas and the red finger bananas. they grow many varieties of bananas down here. right now there is a large bunch of Java blue bananas on one tree in my yard. they are almost ready to cut down and i am very excited for them.


I’ve always thought of artificial flavours as their own thing. Like, we all know none of them really taste like the thing they are supposed to, but we recognize them and like the ones we like. I love all artificial banana flavoured things, as well as grape and orange. I despise all others, especially cherry which can burn in cough syrup hell. But I never expect any of them to taste like the thing they are named for.


which is why we always called kool-ade and gatorade flavors by their color instead of the named flavor.
i’m partial to green.


Increasingly they’ve given up even trying to relate to fruit. Blue is just “blue” flavour and now there’s “frost”, whatever that is. :grin: So many others. I kinda like all of them.


Yeah…I literally just linked to that, noting that it described it as a “heirloom” artificial flavor because while of course it’s not the same as Gros Michel, it was close in a way that it isn’t with Cavendish. But thanks for reading what I wrote before replying. :unamused:


That’s cool and all but why would you repeat a user’s comment back to them like that?


That article also says:

" There’s a story that the archetypal banana flavouring has very authentic origins; that artificial banana flavourings were developed from an old variety of banana called the Gros Michel… However, if you dig in to this tale a little it soon becomes clear that there is little or no verifiable source that artificial banana is based on Gros Michel."

IOW, this is an urban legend. Believe it if you want to…

I’ve noticed that dried bananas taste more like the artificial banana flavoring (and have never liked the candy or dried banana). I assume because the compound that the flavoring is based on is concentrated when the banana’s dried. There’s a similar phenomenon when it comes to strawberry flavoring. The flavoring doesn’t taste much like the domestic strawberries most of us eat, but tastes a lot like wild or woodland strawberries. The first time I ate wild strawberries I thought, so that’s why the candy tastes like that.


“Why doesn’t artificial banana taste like bananas?”
“It actually did taste like some of them.”
“You can’t prove that it was supposed to!”

But sure, wikipedia says it’s debunked based on a whole two articles that both go on to say there’s actually some truth to it, therefore it’s just an urban legend and anyone is a sucker to believe there’s a connection. Thank you for your help, you’re very clever.

I guess you at least looked at the links this time. :unamused:


Actually, if you have a problem with the Wikipedia article, you (or anyone) can edit it yourself. No need to put that effort off on to others. While yes, it is easier to throw shade at editors than actually doing the work yourself, I’m fairly certain you will accomplish far more as a result.

(disclaimer: I used to be the Director of Tech Operations for the Wikimedia foundation)


These are intermittently available at my local Wegmans and I’ll pick up a small bunch whenever I see them. Over the last few years I’ve learned to notice the more distinct flavor, but my first impression was definitely “these taste like fake bananas.”


I know that the Asian grocery stores in Vancouver and Toronto have the little Ladyfinger bananas available. Cost at least double by weight compared to normal bananas, but you should give them a try… they’re great (especially as fried fritters)… the taste is just much more intense than your standard Cavendish.

Here in Vancouver, some people actually grow banana trees… the fruits are kind of blue and completely inedible, but they are there (yeah, I was curious… don’t eat the blueish bananas).

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i grow a variety of “blue” bananas called Java blue. when they are blue, they are not ripe! if those are homegrown, then the person growing them did not cultivate them for eating, they just left them to grow on their own. in growing bananas for eating, the male flower at the end of the bunch must be cut off before the bananas get fertilized or they will be pithy and seeded.
once the properly cultivated blue bananas are allowed to ripen to their natural yellow with brown spots, they will be sweet and oh-so-tasty!
but don’t take my word for it, i just grow them.


As far as I know, the blue bananas are decorative. They’re only grown here because the trees survive the winter. I don’t think it stays warm long enough for the bananas to ripen… I’ve noticed the blue bananas hanging around in November.


Strawberries are among the worst offenders of the industrial produce system scaling things up at the cost of flavour. The big beautiful berries we see in the store sure do look nice, but they have zero flavour compared to the wild ones from which they are derived. It’s kinda sad, honestly. A wild strawberry is like getting punched in the face with flavour by comparison and most people will never know.

Wild strawberries are a lot of work to gather though. The plant is very low to the ground so you can’t see the berries without really getting in there on your knees and each berry is tiny so it’s a lot of effort for a small amount of fruit. Amazing though, when you get them.


I wonder why, of all berries, strawberries got this treatment. I’ve had wild raspberries and they’re not that much different from the ones I can get at the store. Why aren’t the store ones bland and each the size of a golf ball by now?

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That’s a really interesting question. Wild blueberries are not very different either. Would love to know the answer to this!