There’s no lack of hysteria about the fact that beaver butts might flavor your food and all that hysteria is patently ridiculous.
Not that it’s wasn’t true, it’s just not true anymore.
The suspect in this case is a chemical called castoreum and it is indeed excreted by Alaskan, Canadian and Siberian beavers from pouch like sacks located near their butts. It is a fatty, waxy secretion that they use to waterproof their fur, mark their turf and boy oh boy, does it smell delicious.
Castoreum is a powerful combination of vanilla and raspberry aroma with floral hints and fur trappers used to bait traps with it.
Castoreum was not used as a food additive until the early 20th century ( Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets ), but now it is rarely used at all since there are now so many good synthetics alternatives available. In any case the FDA considers it a “natural” flavor since it comes from a natural source.
So where can the curious sample castoreum flavor? Look no further than the Swedish schnapps BVR HJT. Better yet, read the story “On the time I drank castoreum” by Dolly Jorgensen
It just makes sense that, because you can’t grow fields of beavers, that castoreum as a food additive was doomed to fail.
For more reading:
“A brief history of castoreum“, Mental Floss