The Lemon Flavour Bud

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Aug 16, 2016 12:00 AM

I just made a lemon pie for my family. As I poured the dry, white mixture into my mixing bowl, the sparkling yellow bits of delicious lemon flavouring danced in front of me. I reflected on my boyhood.

My mom used to make lemon pies and they were delicious. Back then, all those tasty lemon bits actually formed a smooth lump - a lemon bud. It was bright yellow and about the size of a strawberry. When my mom poured in the hot water, the bud would melt and the tangy aroma of fresh lemon would fill our kitchen. 

As boys we often had fantasies, but this is one we actually discussed. Someday, when we earned our own money, we would buy a pack of lemon pie mix just so we could put that bud in our mouth and suck it until it melted away.

Life can be so cruel. When we finally got our own money, the lemon bud was no more.


This mouthwatering memory, written by Downhome reader Leroy Kendell, inspired us to do a little research on the history of flavour buds. Here is what we found:

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Lushus was a line of Shirriff’s dessert jellies, and the "bud" was a soluble nub containing the jelly’s fruit flavour (black raspberry, grape, lemon etc.). "More Lushus than ever!” the ad in the October 1956 Montreal Gazette declared. “The secret is in the ‘bud.’” It was a revelation in powdered food packaging; the intense flavour was released when the bud dissolved in water. Shirriff was a genius in package design, product and marketing dating back to its founding by Francis Shirriff in 1883 under the name Imperial Extract Company. In addition to the flavour bud, Shirriff patented a hexagon-shaped box that held six individual jelly boxes, creating the ultimate variety pack. The company also created a frenzy among kids wanting to collect hockey coins sealed in the jelly packs.

While the brand is now owned by Smucker’s, the marmalades that initially made Shirriff famous in the early 1900s are still sold under the Shirriff name. 

And if you've ever wondered what Shirriff’s flavour buds sound like, then wait no more. Ken Nordine created this really trippy “Word Jazz” recording called Flavour Bud in Way Out Sounds from Shirriff

Click here to feast your ears on this musical gem!