We May Never Know The True Flavor Of Juicy Fruit Gum

Bubble-blowers have been chewing Juicy Fruit gum since 1893, and since, they've likely been asking the same question: What is Juicy Fruit supposed to taste like exactly? Wrigley's won't tell us. One thing fans can be pretty certain of is that despite its name, Juicy Fruit doesn't purport to contain any actual fruit or juice. It's most likely a cocktail of fruit-adjacent artificial flavors — more "essence of fruit" than actual produce.

But which "essences" are we supposed to be tasting? Mango? Grapefruit? Pear? A Juicy Fruit wrapper from 1946 reportedly advertised that the gum had "a fascinating artificial flavor," which doesn't really provide much clarity. In 2002, one curious fan took their question to the company itself and received the following statement in response, "I'm afraid we can't be very specific because, for competitive reasons, we consider our Juicy Fruit flavoring formula to be a trade secret. I can, however, tell you that the mixture of fruit flavors in Juicy Fruit is comprised of predominately lemon, orange, pineapple, and banana notes."

Some fans theorize that the elusive flavor is actually jackfruit. But there reportedly are no sales records of Wrigley ever importing any jackfruit-related products. A more science-based theory is that jackfruit and Juicy Fruit may contain isoamyl acetate, a chemical that gives the products eerily similar aromas. Some fruits naturally produce isoamyl acetate (aka "banana oil") as they ripen, but judging by Juicy Fruit lore, that isn't how the chemical ended up in the chewing gum.

A stone best left unturned

When Juicy Fruit first hit the market, isoamyl acetate was most commonly found as a byproduct of commercial whiskey-making. And toward the end of the 1800s, Illinois, the future home of Wrigley's, was the biggest whiskey producer in the U.S. Mental Floss reports that distilleries in Illinois were cranking out an estimated 18 million gallons of isoamyl acetate every year, and some Juicy Fruit heads speculate that Wrigley's was buying the by-product straight from the source.

But despite our wild curiosity, maybe it's better if foodies never know the true composition of Juicy Fruit (especially since it seems the flavor is likely a cocktail of artificial chemicals). Notwithstanding some recent exceptions, it's something of an American tradition that so many of our beloved snacks are shrouded behind a veil of mystery. Ask a diehard fan of Dr. Pepper (or someone who remembers SURGE) what's in the drinks, and answers could range from indifference to pride in not knowing. How does a juicy, snappy tomato turn into thick, salty ketchup? Do you even want to know what's inside a hot dog? 

One Juicy Fruit commercial from the '80s depicts fans jumping off snow-capped hills on skis while a voiceover jingle promises, "Take a sniff, pull it out, the taste is gonna move ya when ya pop it in ya mouth." How exactly it gets the job done is for Wrigley's to know and for fans to not think about too hard ... we guess.