How Red Velvet Is Different From Chocolate Cake

Foodies of the world, unite! All those arguments you've had with random waitstaff, bored baristas, and disinterested family members have not been for naught. You have officially been vindicated. Here it is, the moment you've been waiting for: Red velvet cake is different from chocolate cake — and here's why.

Of course, the best red velvet cake recipes consist of rich and creamy flavor profiles, not unlike chocolate. And no, the cake did not originate in the South, as many people believe. It came to prominence at New York City's Waldorf Astoria Hotel in the 1930s (via Southern Living).

Oh, and the "velvet" part of the red velvet cake isn't named after the smooth fabric due to the rich red coloring but instead due to the velvety mouthfeel of the dessert (via Mental Floss). The origins of the cake trace back to the 19th century, according to, when the cakes came by their red color naturally due to the buttermilk and vinegar reacting with the cocoa powder.

So what happened to change the red velvet cake recipe into the chocolate-adjacent cake we love today?

During the Great Depression, US food manufacturers scrambled to find ways to entice the increasingly frugal public to buy their goods in an unstable economy. Anything considered extravagant or frivolous understandably had a hard time selling (via Mental Floss).

Enter John A. Adams, chief marketing officer at the Texas-based Adams Extract Company. Adams produced cakes with the red-dyed vanilla and artificial butter flavoring that the extract company distributed. The red dye transformed red velvet cake's original shade of red, which could be described as oxblood, to the sparkling crimson that we see in modern cakes (via

The truth is that at its core, red velvet cake is a buttermilk cake with a smidge of cocoa powder and a healthy glug of red food coloring in it to provide the dessert its lush color (via Baking Bites).