The Truth Behind Red Velvet

I’m not a fan of chocolate nor do I crave vanilla—red velvet is where it’s at for me. But as many great thinkers (or eaters) have pondered—“What exactly is red velvet?”

Flashback pre-cupcake craze (I know it’s hard to remember a day without cupcake shops on every corner, but it once existed): red velvet was relatively unknown. Sure, a few of us had come across it at some point or another, but in my mind, red velvet made it’s big break only a few years ago…or so I thought…

Recently, I was reading The Kitchn (yes, when I am not shopping, I do enjoy cooking) and came across this article revealing the truth behind red velvet.

Disclaimer: what you are about to read may affect that way you think of red velvet, but don’t worry, it will not affect your appetite for it.

Apparently, the red deliciousness that is red velvet  began as a marketing ploy! Now as a publicist, maybe this shouldn’t be THAT shocking to me, but I guess in all my times eating red velvet cupcakes, whoopie pies, cheesecake, ice cream— you name it—I never considered it stemming from the creative juices of a marketer. But then again, isn’t that what we in the business call a job well-done?

During the Great Depression, “Adams Extract Company attempted to boost sales by marketing their red food coloring along with a free recipe for Red Velvet Cake” (which, up until then, was called red velvet because of the reddish hue of brown sugar—boring, I know).

So, alas, red food coloring became a baker’s B.F.F. and red velvet, as we know it, was officially “invented.” Who knew red dye was such a life-changer?

Now, as I like to say, “Let them eat red velvet cake!”

Posted by Alyssa

4 responses to “The Truth Behind Red Velvet

  1. How interesting. Would never have guessed it came from the 1920s/1930s – thought it was much more modern. I only came across it last year – I am SO behind, clearly!

  2. A Tablespoon of Liz

    I never knew that, that’s so crazy! I’m glad they gave out that recipe though, because red velvet is one of my favorites!

  3. Nice blog..thanks for the story. I am one of the owners of Adams Extract & Spice company and can validate your story on the modern day Red Velvet Cake and Mr. Adams involvement. We have some really cool old posters and recipe cards in our historical info and have them posted on PitchEngine if you are interested in seeing them.

    Best Wish’s

  4. I’m so glad that you enjoyed my blog! I am a big fan of Red Velvet anything and am happy to know where and to whom I should attribute its discovery. I would love to check out that information, it is always nice to take a trip back in time, thank you for letting me know!

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