It’s well-known that the individual flavors and tint of honey are dependent upon the types of flowers used to make it, and that some types of honey can have unusual natural additives, such as the reddish-tinted “mad honey“.
Honey isn’t usually red, though. Unfortunately, one has to say “usually.”
Utah is known as “The Beehive State” because of the cooperation and piety of its populace, not because of the quantity of apiaries present. There are, in fact, relatively few beehives in Utah, but they do exist… and for a while in 2013, the beekeepers noticed an interesting trait of their honey. It was turning red.
Investigations were begun, and it didn’t take long to find the culprit. It was one with a distinctive holiday flair: a candy cane factory. Bees had discovered where the effluent was from the factory and had passed the information along to other local bees, first from their own hives and then to others. The ready-made “nectar” was being discharged by the factory, and it contained some of the food dye used in the creation of the Christmas treats.
The Utah Department of Food and Agriculture conducted the investigation and warned all of the beekeepers about selling any of the oddly-colored honey.
It wasn’t that the sweet fluid wasn’t safe. The dye in question was designed to be consumed by people, and the remainder of the fluid was basically the same as any other honey. There were the expected hints of distinct flavors, but no residual peppermint.
The problem came in the form of the Utah regulations on honey. In order to be classified as such, Utah clearly requires honey to be a product that “originates from a floral source”. It could be sold as, say, “Utah red bee goo”, but not sold as honey.
None of the people who eventually consumed it seemed to mind, just as they didn’t mind in New York when they had their own red honey issue… but that’s a story for another night, very soon.
Question of the night: What sauces, condiments or toppings will be present on your holiday table today?