The Blue Steak Experiment

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership.

S2: I can definitely remember dark brown, red, yellow, green, tan, so growing up, Bridget Lancaster’s mother would sometimes put out a clear fishbowl of multicolored Eminem’s Bridget, who’s the host of the podcast Proof from America’s Test Kitchen, didn’t have a favorite color, but she had a least favorite one. I probably separated them out and gave them to somebody else, you know, with the tandem. And you said, as I understand, for somebody else to eat because you didn’t want them. Yeah, I mean, who wants to food eventually? Even Eminem didn’t want food in 1995 and held a contest to replace the tan color with pink, purple or blue and blue one within the next two years, Gatorade, Heinz, ketchup peeps and more would be selling blue products, too.

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S3: But the Eminem contest in particular generated a huge amount of attention. We both remember it the year it happened.

S4: Bridgitte got a pack of the new Eminem’s now with blue in her stocking.

S1: I was anti blue Eminem. I have to say, I was anti change. But, you know, as soon as somebody says, no, you can’t have them anymore. All of a sudden I want them.

S5: Cockamamy Eminem story. Please tell me your Eminem story. I was in high school or middle school. It was like I think there’s like four of us wearing our peacoat. It’s very like the 90s. And we bought a pack of Aluminum’s that was going to have this new color blue. We knew we were doing and we took we bought it. And one of the girls, like, pours it into her hand and we knew it was coming. And we all genuinely shrieked, shrieked in joy. I like just it was so like the marketing campaign worked so well. We were overcome and we still were like, regardless of how well you.

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S6: This is Decoder Ring, a show about cracking cultural mysteries. I’m Willa Paskin. These days, blue food is all over the snack aisle. But that wasn’t always the case for the world’s most popular color, for a color that can claim the sea and the sky. It took its time becoming a junk food and beverage staple. Its slow stroll to the supermarket involves color theory, mid century misinformation, electric blue food dye and a make believe flavor. In today’s episode, in collaboration with the podcast Proof from America’s Test Kitchen. We’re going to tell two stories that together explain why it took so long for blue food to become a market commonplace. The first is about a blue food that we have come to love, and the second is about a blue food that we still think we don’t. So today, undercoating, what took Blue Foods so long to catch on?

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S4: Before we start, I want to set the table. I want to talk about what sets blue food apart.

S7: Why is there no blue food? I can’t find blue food, I can’t find a flavor of blue, I mean, green is lime yellow lemon. Orange is orange, red is cherry. What’s blue? There’s no blue.

S4: That’s George Carlin. In 1975, on the first ever episode of Saturday Night Live. He’d continue doing this bit for years. It doesn’t really work from his comedy, but it does get to the fundamental thing about blue food. It barely exists in nature. No, not even in blueberries.

S7: Oh, they say blueberries. Blue on the vine, purple on the plate. There’s no blue food. Where is the blue food we want the blue food, most of the blue we see is a reflection or an iridescence.

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S4: It’s blue because of how the light bounces off of something rather than a pigment inherent in the thing itself. You see blue in bird feathers and butterfly wings in the sky and the ocean. But it’s rare in the plants and animals that we actually eat. That means blue is a common color, but it’s uncommon in food. Historically, there have been two ways to think about this paradox. The first, which was ascendent for much of the 20th century, that this makes blue innately unappetizing, something we see and subconsciously associate with rot and mold and poison and don’t want to eat. But the second, which has always been lurking around, is that this unusualness might, in the right circumstance, make blue special, make it stand out, make it exciting.

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S3: The most concrete evidence in support of the first school of thought, the blue is an absolute nonstarter. School is a well known study from the early 1970s.

S8: Imagine you’re in a windowless room, a clinical setting. It’s not unusual in any way, except that the lighting is low and there’s about a half dozen people in there who have agreed to participate in this focus group.

S3: Joel Tenenbaum is a history professor at Community College of Philadelphia.

S8: And I think it’s safe to say the world’s leading expert on this experiment and everyone who’s participating in the experiment is given a plate of food and the plates are all identical. They have steak, peas and some kind of fried potatoes on them. So at around the 15 minute mark, everything’s going well, all of the sudden, normal overhead lighting has restored. This allows everyone to see their food much more clearly.

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S9: And they look down and they see that the steak that they’ve been eating is bright blue. The peas are kind of a blood red and the potatoes are green. Someone gets sick, someone gets angry, maybe someone, you know, throws a plate or some cutlery at the wall. Bottom line is that people are reacting to this surprise appearance of their food with extreme displeasure.

S4: This study, which first appeared in 1973, has been cited everywhere in academic papers and journals, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times, NPR, just about every story about how color affects our sense of taste. And it’s also widely known among food professionals. And it seems to suggest, among other things, there’s something powerfully off about blue food. We’re going to return to the study in the second half of the episode. But before that, we’re going to consider the best evidence in support of the other side of the blue paradox in support of team blue food can be appealing, salable and fun.

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S10: We’re going to look at blue raspberry coulis jams with 10 percent real fruit juice.

S4: Now, if you put a blue raspberry, is the electric blue a very sweet flavor you can find in Slurpee? Isiah’s popsicles, sports drinks, gummy lollipops, licorice syrups, sucking candies and more. It is particularly beloved by children, not simply for its taste, but for the way it stains your tongue, a vibrant, almost lurid shade of blue. Though the Internet will tell you there is a real blue raspberry, the white bark raspberry, this not so common variety is even less blue than a blueberry, which is previously mentioned is, in fact, a ruddy purple. So our first story, how did blue and raspberry, two things with no connection in nature become one flavor?

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S11: So I want to begin at the moment, we became capable of making blue food in the first place with the invention of synthetic dyes in the eighteen fifties, chemists were playing around with coal tar waste and actually discovered that they could create dyes from Qatar. Waste Carolling Cobalt is a historian and the author of A Rainbow Palette How Chemical Dyes Changed the West’s relationship with Food Dyes They created from the Coulthart Waste were used as textile dyes, but they actually started going into food from about the eighteen sixties.

S3: Needless to say, eating dyes intended for textiles to say nothing of a number of even more toxic additives would occasionally make people really sick. So in 1986, the American government started to regulate these dyes. By that point, there were more than 900 textile dyes with off label usages in food rather than test all of them. The government decided it would be easier just to approve seven of them. By the 1930s, that list had grown to 15, and it included blue dye number one, also known as brilliant blue and red dye. Number two, a deep red color typically used with raspberry flavoring. The standard story of blue raspberries origin is all tied up with these two dyes.

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S11: There was big concern in the 1950s about one of the red dye. So at that point, people put, oh, what are we going to what are we going to die?

S3: Our raspberry sherbet, ice cream with red dye number two would officially be banned as a carcinogen in 1976, but it was intermittently controversial in the decades before. The story goes that during one of those moments of controversy in the late 1950s, the carnival supplier, Gold Medal based in Cincinnati, which invented the first reliable cotton candy machine in 1949, decided to stop using red dye number two. But it still had all this raspberry flavoring, which appeared paired with blue dye number one, instead creating what a trade publication at the time referred to as a new blue raspberry flavor for snow cones and cotton candy. At this point, blue cotton candy called blue raspberry joined pink vanilla as the default cotton candy, shade and flavor. But it wasn’t until the 1970s when red dye number two became really controversial. The two frozen treat companies icy and otter pops started making blue raspberry treats themselves.

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S4: And that’s when the flavor really went mainstream. In this version of the story, Blue Raspberry is a solution to a problem. These companies have all this raspberry flavoring and nothing to pair it with. So they turn raspberries blue. It’s blue as a last resort.

S12: But what are those more than that, the story about Blue Raspberry that, like I had heard for a gazillion years, was that it had to do with red number two being pulled from the market, not Ebenstein is a flavor historian.

S4: And when she started digging into where Blue Raspberry comes from, she came across a couple of relevant things. The first is that very quickly, like back in the 90s, when refined sugar production made a rainbow hued penny, candies are commonplace. Manufacturers understood that brightly colored foods were especially appealing to children, even if they had no specific flavor. The color alone was a draw. By the 1920s, this knowledge was showing up in beverage trade journals, or Natya found an article noting that at fairs and carnivals, kids were much more likely to buy a fuchsia colored lemonade than a regular one, even when the taste was the same by the 1950s as major corporations were starting to target different portions of the market. There’s all this LÉ evidence that a bright color like blue might actually help a product stand out, especially to kids. And that seems to be where Blue Raspberry really started as a way to make a tree stand out during the postwar ice cream boom.

S12: The earliest blue raspberry flavored things start appearing in the early 1950s, and they’re usually ice creams. There’s an increasing number of like frozen delicious things to eat. And people have freezers so they can buy ice cream at stores and bring them home. Right. So there’s just more competition in that space.

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S4: In a newly jammed freezer aisle, Lou is going to pop by 1955. The Popsicle Corporation, the company that has a trademark for that name, was advertising a new blue raspberry double pop popsicle a few years before it started showing up in cotton candy and snow cones. But there was another thing inspiring blue raspberry as well, the Fourth of July.

S12: I think that the desire to make red, white and blue frozen ice cream desserts is like a thing that kind of like birth’s blue raspberry.

S4: The first ads that Nadia has seen that mentioned blue raspberry are for tri colored patriotic treats in red, white and blue where the blue is blue raspberry. You can still buy patriotic themed ice cream concoctions like this, this past summer, I got a July 4th themed carton with vanilla for white, some kind of strawberry swirl for red and for the blue, of course, blueberry chip.

S13: So this is where the blue raspberry saga just really elevates Romney into an a plus brainteaser, a blue raspberry was not created to deal with this glut of raspberry flavoring, but instead to fill out the American flag. Why isn’t it blueberry? I know I’ve said blueberries are not really blue. And sure, there’s some poetic justice in blue, which is not naturally exist in fruit being so closely associated with a totally made up fruit. But come on, why not blueberry? I love this story because it’s so counterintuitive. Why wouldn’t you pick blueberry? That’s right there, right?

S2: Yeah, that’s the other thing. Blueberry also has this crazy story. I mean, or I think it’s crazy. Blueberry seems like such a standard fruit now, but not so long ago, really, they were an odd fruit.

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S4: Wild blueberries are native to North America, and they grow robustly in the Pacific Northwest and all along the Eastern Seaboard, but they proved very difficult to cultivate. It wasn’t until the 1910s and 20s that they were domesticated.

S12: There were wild blueberries in places like Maine that you could get locally originally. But it wasn’t a fruit that people around around the U.S., much less a world, were familiar with.

S4: In 1939, Americans were eating about 20 million pounds of blueberries, most of them wild, half canned or frozen, which sounds like a lot until you learned that at the same time, we were producing 400 million pounds of table grapes and 46 million pounds of figs. Dried figs were twice as popular as blueberries kills me. And my 1961, our blueberry intake had only gone up to around 24 million pounds. Today, we’re at 660 million pounds like blueberries were unknown. Blueberry pie was popular. There was the 1946 children’s book Blueberries for Sale, which is all about hunting wild blueberries. In 1964, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory included a character who turns into a blueberry.

S13: And there’s also Fats Domino’s 1940 song Blueberry Hill, which was covered by Elvis, Celine Dion, Louis Armstrong and Led Zeppelin, among others. I found my three.

S14: Oh, to be basically into the 1950s, blueberries were not even figs, they were just whole swathes of the country were using a raspberry to connote blue instead of a blueberry would not have been the affront to common sense that it is today. By 1980, though, the world was starting to look more familiar blueberry wise. That year, Jelly Belly, a company that had existed since 1898, finally develop its very first blueberry flavored jelly bean when they needed a blue colored bean to include in a red, white and blue display for Ronald Reagan’s inauguration.

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S4: Still, all these years later, blueberry remains a relatively rare candy flavor. It’s not nearly as common as artificially flavored grape, cherry, strawberry or even blue raspberry. You can get blue raspberry, jolly ranchers, for example, but not blueberry ones. I find it difficult to even conjure up its taste compared to these other artificial flavors. It’s like the space that a blueberry candy should be. It’s not there because blue raspberry is there. Instead, all of this suggests that the blue food debate should have been over in the 1970s when Blue Raspberry became a best selling freezer pop flavor. But oddly, that wasn’t enough to put blue over the top. It would take another 25 years for blue to get out of the freezer section. And the reason why is where we’re going next. So for the second story in this episode, we’re going to look at what Blue Raspberry was up against, a deep seated skepticism about blue food, one you can see expressed in that blue steak experiment I mentioned earlier in the show.

S9: The steak that they’ve been eating is bright blue. The keys are kind of a blood red and the potatoes are green. Someone gets sick, someone gets angry.

S4: Joel Tenenbaum, the professor at Community College of Philadelphia, has become totally fascinated by the study. He first wrote about it in the early 2000s and he never forgot it.

S1: He’s not the only one, the blue state thing where there was kind of some sort of color manipulation going on. I’ve heard this story for a long, long time.

S4: That’s Bridget Lancaster, the host of Proof. Again, she’s worked in food for many years, including at the magazine Cook’s Illustrated back in the 1990s, which is where she thinks she first heard about this study.

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S1: I had brought in my fiesta where plates just so we could have some sort of colored assortment of options for for food styling. And I had this cobalt I have still have this cobalt blue fiesta, which is beautiful, and I gladly eat food off of it. But that has to be where the conversation started because people were saying no blue plates and pictures as this story has been swirling around food people.

S4: It’s also been popping up in popular science pieces about blue food and sensory studies, the field that looks at how all of our senses, not just our taste and smell, impact, how we experience flavor. Sensory studies is why Joel Tenenbaum was interested in the study, too. He’d been teaching a food history course for a few years, Will decided to put together a survey text based on what he’d been teaching and early on.

S9: I was working on a chapter about sensory studies and I remembered the story that I had heard years ago and had referred to passingly in lectures about this crazy experiment where they died food blue.

S4: When he went looking for it, he realized it was hard to find the original study. The academic and non-academic articles that mention it cite the work of Wheatly a Joëlle so went looking for Joëlle.

S9: I confirmed that the author of this study was this woman named Jane Wheatly, and she published it in a magazine called Marketing in the early 70s. And marketing was like a trade magazine, basically for the for the food industry or like for the advertising and marketing professionals.

S4: Jane Wheatly has gone on to have a long career in journalism, but in 1973, she was just an editorial assistant, the most junior title and a magazine. The piece she wrote, a cover story was titled Putting Color into Marketing.

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S9: I had to get a friend of mine who’s at a university in the UK to check this thing out of the British Library and their reading room. Scan it for me, send it to me. But I finally got my hands on this article in a PDF of this article, and I was so excited. And when I finally got to it, the whole recount of the experiment was, you know, was in the passive voice and it wasn’t attributed.

S8: It’s the strangest thing. It’s just sort of an anecdote.

S3: In other words, the blue state study doesn’t seem like it really happened. So we went down the rabbit hole with a study, obviously with Jaws help, we tried to figure out where it really comes from and we have a theory. But before we get to it, I want to provide some context to explain what the study is really about, which is key to understanding why it’s still with us. So color matters to taste. It’s been proven an experiment upon experiment upon experiment. Real one, not this one, but that’s what this one shows to. And that’s important to people on both sides of the historical conflict about blue food I outlined at the top of the show. It matters. The blue will never be popular because it’s unnatural side that was ascendant in the mid 20th century and it still matters that it’s surprising and fun and can work in the right circumstances side. That’s ascendant. Now, I’m going to give these sides more Polish names, the color consultants and the sensory scientists. You may think you don’t know anything about color consultants, but a lot of our most common ideas about what colors mean and do were popularized by them. When I was talking to Brigitte about the stake study, she immediately connected it to their work, which is still very much in the air.

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S1: I think it’s part of the whole Goober’s saying if you want to lose weight, just eat off of a blue plate. But then we hear about the edible colors and that’s why places like McDonald’s or are red and yellow and those are the more appetizing colors.

S4: This idea that red and yellow are appetizing and blue is not. That comes from the color consultants. They first popped up in mass after World War Two, a moment of ballooning consumer choice when for the first time you get lots of consumer goods in lots of different colors. And some of them were even being sold on color TV. Corporations and advertisers needed guidance on this brave new world of color and a cohort of psychologists, scientists, engineers and marketers sprung up to advise them. Their recommendations weren’t based on a lot of hard science, but they were framed scientifically and authoritatively, they would assert that colors had fundamental qualities and apply them to commercial contexts. So blue was associated with distinction and cold. It could be sleep inducing and sometimes depressing, but it was also thought to be well used in freezer aisles in the packaging for red foods and as the text on a yellow label they were solving for color. But the solution wasn’t simple for blue. The cold thing was a particularly big deal. The color consultants were really influenced by color theory and took to the idea of the warm colors, red and yellow, fiery and sunlike, and the cold ones icy blue. In the context of food, this was connected to appetite. The warm colors were appetizing while the cold ones were not. This actually might explain why Blue first popped up in the freezer aisle, the right place for a cold color and also why it’s success there. It didn’t immediately prompt other kinds of blue food. It was the exception that proved the rule. Blue belonged in the cold. These ideas about color and appetite are still in circulation. So needless to say, they were really in circulation in the 1970s, right around when the Blue Steak study was first published.

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S15: Go back to the sixties and seventies and the sort of market is and the cultural commentators were all suggesting that you’d never be able to sell a blue drink or blue food. People just wouldn’t buy it.

S4: Charles Spence is a prolific astrophysicist and the head of the Cross Modal Research Laboratory at Oxford University. He does sensory studies, which, unlike color consulting, are scientific based in experimentation and data. One of his most famous studies showed the sound of a potato chip. The quality of the crunch when you bite into it, affects how good people think that they are. Another found that having a black or white coffee mug changes how intense and how sweet the drinker finds their coffee. Spence has done a lot of work with blue and companies developing blue products, and he thinks that in the right circumstances, blue food can work really well, set the product apart and work outside a tasters expectations. But even he likes the blue steak story.

S15: You could take it as perhaps one of the most powerful examples of the visual appearance of food.

S4: What it can do to us friends decided it in a number of his academic papers. He shot a pilot for a TV show where they riffed on it by serving blue sushi, which he says no one wanted to eat. And in the mid thousands, at a conference at Oxford, he put together a blue dinner for about 50 people where they played Miles Davis kind of blue and served blue chicken and bread.

S14: In a world where many of us still think of a blind taste test as the gold standard for assessing flavor, will you treat the visual as something clouding flavor, not a part of it. Spence sees the study as dramatic evidence to the contrary.

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S15: It’s exciting and important to me. This is how powerful color can be. And my colleagues and the world of flavor, perception and food to say, you know, well, what you see is the part of flavor. I can’t believe that changing the color of something would change the taste.

S4: Well, how about this as an example for first and most of the people who cite the study, the Germein thing about it isn’t the blue, though that may be the most distinctive detail. The state could be purple or green or any color stake isn’t naturally and would make the point they care about color impacts, flavor. And actually the steak has been a lot of other colors in the stories and studies that got blended together to make this one. We think, let’s dive in.

S13: OK, this is how the blue state study is described in the 1973 piece in which it first appeared, the source that launched it out into the world, several people were collected round a table in a special form of lighting, which showed the food on the plate in front of them, but not its color. After they had consumed some of the meal, normal lighting was resumed and the subjects found the steak was blue, the piece red and the chips green. Almost all were violently thick. That’s all. There’s no more detail, its own citations don’t lead to a more detailed experiment. It’s an example less than a paragraph in a multipage many thousand word story. It’s basically a straight up color consulting story trying to explain to advertisers how important color is and the various ways it works. This story does come in a paragraph about how color is contextual and memory based. It concludes by saying kids probably wouldn’t have this strong of a reaction.

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S3: But it also comes with a chart, a little info graphic that lists, in a word or two, what colors mean to people in various countries. Blue is again reduced to cold.

S8: Joel had been hoping for more, if not, you know, a study with data that at the very least, like some concrete information about when it happened and where it had happened and who the participants were and who conducted the study.

S9: And there was none of that.

S4: Joel tracked down the author. But she didn’t remember much about it. It was almost 50 years ago. And it’s just a couple sentence anecdote in a piece that’s about something else. But you’ll keep digging around. He talked to a lot of people and he eventually wrote about all of it for Gastronomica. The piece called Blue State Red PE’s argues, among other things, that one of the reasons the study has proved so sticky is because it taps into our anxieties about shady food manufacturers and synthetic additives, which I think there’s something to anyway. That’s how he got in touch with the podcast Proof who put him in touch with us. And we did some more digging to the point that we now have a very provisional working theory of where the blue steak story comes from. We think it’s three other stories mixed together.

S14: The first one is about an early type of sensory study.

S16: So Joel got a lead from the British historian Sally Harrex, who sent him a newsreel clip taped at the experimental kitchens of the UK’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. In it, you can see women serving food to subjects who are sitting at little cubicles that have jell lights above them. When switch on, they turn all the food beneath them, various bowls of greyish through red or green, depending on the filter.

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S8: So, yes. So they actually there’s footage at the end of it of this guy being served a tray of what looks like airline food or hospital food, some kind of institutional food, and then someone changes the light above here that kind of puts his fork down the newsreel.

S16: Joel is describing it from 1959 when I spoke with Nadia Berenstein, the flavor historian who I also talked to about Blue Raspberry Rasberry. She said This kind of experiment goes back to World War Two. That’s when the American armed forces were some of the first people in the world to live on a diet of largely processed food. Figure out how to make that food appetizing. The Army assembled a number of food scientists and psychologists and engineers to do experiments on flavor often done in deodorize pressurized cubicles under to isolate the subject’s sense of taste. Nadia Berenstein again. So sometimes tasters will be doing this work under like red lights, kind of like in a dark room so that everything looks gray so that color differences will be extinguished.

S4: I think this is where the idea of experiments in which you shine colored lights on food comes from, but the gist is there. The details are not. The food itself is institutional and drab. There’s no steak or peas or potatoes, also no puking. But most of those things are in the story about a dinner party attended or thrown by a man named Luis Cheskin, a big time post-war color consultant. Cheskin was a psychologist, marketer and researcher who is known for soliciting input from actual customers for being more scientific in his methods than some of his peers. He ran something called the Color Research Institute, wrote a number of books, and was apparently fundamental in advising Marlborough to rebrand their cigarettes as manly. He also told McDonald’s to keep their golden arches for their Freudian implications. He called the artist’s mother McDonald’s breasts. One night, after following a citation from a paper about food color, I was looking through the text of one of Cheskin books, Colors What They Can Do for You, which was published in 1947, 23 years before Wheatley’s article came out. While skimming through it, I came across this story. The enjoyment of eating is governed by the color almost as much as by the taste of food as was demonstrated recently at a dinner party given by a lighting engineer on the banquet table. When the guests took their seats were dishes filled with the finest and most appetizing foods. Suddenly, the illumination was switched from white to colored lights. The steak took on a billis gray color at the celery turned extremely pink. Salads were converted into a muddy violet. The green peas looked like oversized black caviar, the milk turned blood red, the eggs blue and the coffee a sickly yellow. Most of the guests immediately lost their appetites. Those who forced themselves to eat the food became ill. I think this dinner party experiment is the one Wheatly is exciting variations of it show up in a number of questions, other books as well. It’s not just that the stories are so similar that the Cheskin book is exactly the kind of thing someone writing about color for marketers in 1973 might have been reading, because that’s exactly who Cheskin books were for, too. Still, there’s one key element missing from the Cheskin anecdote. The stakes, not blue. How to turn blue. I think one answer might be.

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S17: Alfred Hitchcock, I once gave a dinner party so many years ago where all the food was blue.

S4: That’s the director on The Dick Cavett Show. He hosted this infamous party in a private room at the Trocadero Shishi London restaurant.

S17: For me, it was chicken soup, blue trout, blue chicken and blue ice cream.

S14: And when you broke open your rolls of bread with blue inside, Hitchcock threw this party in the 1930s and another one in the 1960s. But the Dick Cavett appearance was in 1972. And he also told the story in a print interview in 1970, which are both just a few years before the Blue State story was published. Did you explain this or did you just not comment on it?

S17: No comment on it.

S6: It fell apart even in the blue. Doesn’t come directly from Hitchcock.

S4: He’s not eating steak, you might have noticed, but chicken and trout, I think Hitchcock a a slight mythologised and a master of the eerily showstopping interest in blue underscores the truth about this color, which is as at the grocery aisle, it makes whatever it touches stand out. Even a story is just better, weirder, more memorable because blue is involved. So that’s our working theory. Sensory studies and color consulting bump into each other by way of Alfred Hitchcock to create this Frankenstein anecdote that gets passed on and on, because even though it’s made up, it tells us two things that are true color matters and blue food is special.

S13: So to return to where we started, why did it take so long for blue food to catch on? I think mid century skepticism and blue raspberry jockeyed for way longer than it seems like they should have until Blue’s potential as an attention grabbing novelty finally exceeded concerns that it might be off putting in the 1990s. And as Blue jumped out of the freezer and there was an explosion of the color with Eminem, Kool-Aid, Gatorade and eventually even Heinz ketchup going blue and Heinz cases along with a host of other shades. We haven’t looked back since, but it’s not as though we know for sure now that people like blue food. There’s been a number of studies that show it can be off putting. It really is still mostly a sweet for kids and we’re nowhere near eating blue steak. It’s still weird. It’s just that manufacturers and marketers have a greater understanding of how blues unusualness can be worked to a product advantage. That’s another way to think about blues slow creep into stores as tracing food companies, growing awareness that Americans are more willing to try new things than they once thought. The gag of surprise and the thrill of victory, they just might be one bright blue tongue apart. This is Decoder Ring, I’m Willa Paskin. Before we go, I have a scheduling announcement in 2021, decoder ring is going to be going Seasonale. That means you won’t hear from us for a while, but we will be back in the summer with a whole season’s worth of brand new episodes, which will come out every week. We’re very excited to try something new and we are really appreciative of you waiting to hear it. Thank you so much for listening to and supporting the show. Be back not that long. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter at Willa Paskin. And if you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode, you can email us at Decoder Ring, at Slate, Dotcom. Also, I want to encourage you to check out proof from America’s Test Kitchen. They look into cultural mysteries about food and you can listen to proof wherever you’re listening to this. If you haven’t yet, subscribe and read our Feed and Apple podcast wherever you get your podcasts. And even better, tell your friends. This podcast was written by Willa Paskin. It was edited by Benjamin. Fresh Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Benjamin. Fresh Clue 11 is our research assistant, thanks to Caitlin Kelleher and Sarah Joyner at the proof team to Susan Murray I. Hasana Myon Zilberman, Jim Minnick, Greg Cheskin, Eli Lewis, Peter, Rebecca, Faderman, June Thomas and everyone else who gave us help and feedback along the way. See you in twenty, twenty one. Have a great New Year.