The chemistry of artificial banana flavorToday’s Video of the Day from the American Chemical Society seeks out the science behind artificial banana flavor.
The researchers found that a single molecule, isoamyl acetate, is responsible for the distinctive taste of artificial banana. This molecule can also be found in actual bananas.
However, artificial banana flavor was created before bananas were widely available in American markets. This means that many Americans probably tasted the chemical version of a banana before ever tasting a real one.
Out of over 1,000 banana varieties, artificial flavoring was not originally derived from any of them. Remember how isoamyl acetate is the chemical compound primarily responsible for banana flavoring? Gros Michel contains more of that compound than the Cavendish. In fact, isoamyl acetate was one of the first chemical compounds used in artificial flavors that was confirmed to exist in the actual fruit as well.
So the disconnect between the artificial banana and the grocery store variety is supposedly due to the flavoring being based on the now-unavailable Gros Michel. Baranuik’s found no verifiable sources to support the myth. The chemistry of artificial banana flavor as show above will show you the exact way and why the taste is.
Isoamyl acetate, which is indeed found in bananas, is a very simple compound that is both cheap to produce and highly versatile. Diluted, it smells more like pears than bananas and logical combinations of this ester have proved popular.
Video Credit: ACS