Sparkly cakes and cupcakes? Sure. There’s no doubt something exciting about eating shiny things. In fact, some researchers believe that our attraction to glistening objects is linked to our primitive desire for water as a vital resource. Traditionally, edible glitter has been used to decorate confections, but it’s no longer reserved for baking. Last year, the internet became mesmerized by a glitter-topped latte, and since then, we’ve seen it sprinkled on more and more foods.
Edible glitter showed up on a rainbow pizza by Dagwoods in Santa Monica, CA, followed by gold-flecked donuts from Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken in Los Angeles, and in February, the fast food chain Shake Shack released a glittery pink milkshake for Valentine’s Day. Sasquatch Brewery in Portland, Oregon, made a glitter beer that sold out in less than a week. Glitter-swirled bagels, handmade by The Bagel Store in Brooklyn, NY, also had a nice run. And just this week, Hershey announced a glitter-sprinkled gum by Ice Breakers (set to hit shelves on April 15).
“Consumers are looking for extra sparkle in every day items—whether it’s what they’re eating, drinking or wearing,” Nathan Johnson, Brand Manager of Ice Breakers, said in a statement.
Edible glitter is clearly shaping up to be one of 2018’s biggest food and drink trends, but while these shiny snacks may earn you likes on Instagram, are they really safe to consume? It turns out, not all glitter is gold. The FDA warns that decorative glitters and dusts are often promoted for use on foods but not manufactured to be edible. Often labeled as “non-toxic,” products like disco dust and luster dust pose no major risk if accidentally consumed; however, they are not designed to be eaten. These products often come from the same manufacturers that make scrapbooking supplies, and if you read the fine print, are intended to be used on display cakes.
Products that are safe to consume are labeled as “edible” and/or “FDA-approved.” These products comply with the applicable FDA regulations and are required by law to include a list of ingredients on the label. Common ingredients in edible glitter or dust include sugar, acacia (gum arabic), and color additives and pearlescent pigments specifically approved for food use, not crafting or cosmetics. Still, we wouldn’t recommend covering every meal in fairy food dust, especially if you have Crohn’s disease or conditions like IBS.