The History of Flavors

We have used flavorings to add zest to our food and lives since well before recorded history. From early times, flavorings (such as spices, sugar, and salt) have been part of a quest to make foods and beverages taste better, leading to a more enjoyable life.

America came to the world’s attention because Christopher Columbus sailed off in 1492 to seek a faster route to Far Eastern spice sources. Centuries later, the advent of commercial food processing created the need for flavors that were familiar to consumers but could also be incorporated into the new methods of food production.

In the 1800s, German and Swiss businesses were the first to expand the flavor market significantly, through the development of synthetic aromatic chemicals that served as the basis for many new artificial flavors. Most of these early commercially produced flavoring substances were derived from or based on substances recurring naturally.

In the United States, many flavor companies began as importers of European essential oils and other flavoring substances. They soon expanded to meet local economic and market needs by formulating and manufacturing ingredients domestically. At the beginning of the 20th century, a growing number of food and beverage companies created even more demand for commercial flavors.

Today, added flavors can be found in most products we enjoy.  They can enhance existing flavors naturally present in foods and drinks and can also be used in creative ways to add new flavors, including snacks, juices, and even water.

Independent experts evaluate all flavor ingredients for their safety before they are used in consumer products.  The safety findings are shared with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other scientific bodies, including the United Nations/ World Health Organization Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), the European Food Safety Authority, and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.