A new food is on the market that can actually decrease the amount of time you spend crying in 2018, so we had to try it for ourselves.
Sunions are “the first tearless and sweet onion grown in the U.S.,” according to a press release announcing their impending arrival in select markets.
Cooks have long struggled with burning eyes from chopping onions, inspiring many bizarre attempts to make those tears subside. The problem is so pervasive that the question “how can you cut an onion without crying?” produces more than 1.1 million Google search results, and related how-to videos currently total more than 6 million views on YouTube.
The reason you cry when you slice an onion is because it contains volatile compounds that waft up from the onion and react with the natural water in your eyes to form sulfuric acid, which makes your eyes produce tears to reduce the irritant.
Bayer, the company that developed Sunions, says that unlike conventional onions ― whose volatile compounds increase while they’re in storage ― Sunions’ volatile compounds decrease over time, so they lose that tear-triggering effect. Sunions’ testing labs certify that their onions are tearless before releasing them to the market.
Not only do Sunions supposedly cause fewer tears over time, but Bayer also says they become sweeter, delivering a “great crunch and consistently delicious flavor” that makes them tasty even when eaten raw. (We test this claim in the video below.)
But if Sunions’ volatile compounds decrease over time, does the flavor weaken, too?
“Sunions maintain that onion flavor over time,” Lyndon Johnson, the crop sales manager at Bayer, told HuffPost. “It’s just that aftertaste that really disappears. The flavor experience should be one that has an onion flavor but it doesn’t leave that aftertaste on the back of your palate.”
Bayer says Sunions are not genetically modified, but were developed through an all-natural crossbreeding program that’s taken nearly 30 years to perfect.
In the 1980s, breeders in Nevada and Washington state began using gas chromatography to identify which types of onions contained the fewest volatile compounds, and those onions were crossbred naturally to isolate those qualities on a consistent basis.
“It’s very important that these are not genetically modified,” Johnson said. “We started by planting a source out in the field, and if it produced desirable qualities, which in this case was low pungency, we selected the bulbs that lowered in pungency over time in storage … And that’s how it generated, through traditional selection method.”
Sunion has done plenty of its own testing to confirm its product is tearless, but we wanted to see for ourselves. We found three HuffPost editors who typically have a tough time chopping onions without waterworks, and asked each to chop a Sunion. All three succeeded, without a single tear.
Keep an eye out for Sunions in the coming weeks.