What Exactly Is Artificial Cherry Flavor, And Why Is It So Good?

There are two types of people in this world; those who choose a cherry-flavored slushie and those who pick a blue-raspberry slushie. That's the only real distinguishable difference between people in this world. Kidding! Cherry-flavored sweet treats are undeniably bright red and sweet. The coloring can be mildly concerning, but it's all part of the fun. You know when you have a cherry-flavored treat, whether it's a lollipop, slushie, soda, licorice, or gummy bear, you can't mistake it. Of course, the flavor of a cherry-picked fresh from a tree is incredibly different from an artificial cherry-flavored candy. But that's the case for nearly all artificial fruit flavors, with some being better than others. 

Cherry is a classic flavor. Flavorman, a beverage development company, predicts in their 2022 Beverage Trends report that cherry-flavored beverage demand will rise as consumers desire more familiar, comforting flavors. Lately, there has been an influx of flavors like lavender mint or jalapeño pineapple in the beverage industry. While these new flavors are fun and exciting, there is still a need for good old-fashioned cherry and cola flavors, too. 

What makes artificially flavored cherry such a long-lasting fan favorite? Well, a flavor chemist is responsible for creating flavors that mimic the real deal. The chemist utilizes analytical data on the chemical makeup of the respective fruit to make the flavor, but they can choose to amplify whatever flavor notes they see fit.

It's simple and sweet

The main aroma chemical in cherries is benzaldehyde (via Flavorman). Benzaldehyde is what creates the traditional cherry flavor that comes to mind. But the levels of benzaldehyde are actually low in natural cherry fruit while high in artificial flavors. This chemical aroma is used not only to make candy vibrantly sweet but also to balance bitter medicine, creating cherry-flavored cough syrup. 

A flavor chemist can have fun creating a cherry flavor for whatever brand they're working with. Besides benzaldehyde, other popular compounds in cherry flavors are eugenol, which tastes like cloves, or linalool, which has a woodsy, floral profile. A flavor chemist can play around with these compound levels until they create the perfect cherry flavor. It's not natural; it's science. Think about a drink like Dr. Pepper. The elusive soda proudly proclaims it's a mixture of 23 flavors, leaving it up to the consumer to decide what it really tastes like. But people tend to agree that the flavors that stand out the most are cherry, cola, and licorice. 

With crazy food trends that come and go, artificial cherry brings us back to a simpler time. The nostalgic flavor reminds us that some of the best things in life are the simplest.