The Dragee Report

The Dragee Report

Chris Phillips
Dec 20, 2006

Gingerbread men don dragees for buttons and snowflake cookies depend on dragees for their sparkle. But don't count on getting ahold of these small shiny decorations if you're in the Golden State.

SFGate.com reports that as of December 2003 "because of a Napa lawyer's lawsuit alleging that the shimmery mini-orbs are toxic, stores . . . wholesalers and Internet suppliers simply won't sell sugar decorations filmed with silver, gold or copper to anyone in California."

Amy Sherman from Cooking With Amy told me that while dragees still aren't for sale in California, they can be legally brought in to the state. Amy smuggles her dragees in to San Francisco via Seattle. "It's lucky they don't set off airport metal detectors!" Amy said.

Here in New York City -- land of the trans-fat ban -- dragees can be bought and sold out in the open. But call ahead first.

Dragees are out of stock at Sur La Table in Soho and they aren't sure if they'll get a new shipment in before the end of December. Maybe tourists from California buy dragees as souvenirs? Anna from Blue Apron Foods in Park Slope, Brooklyn reports that they still have plenty of dragees. "You can eat them, they just don't taste fantastic," Anna said.

Not so according to the FDA. They have "a specific prohibition against the presence of a non-nutritive substance in confectionery." This is why dragees are marked "For Decoration Only" here in the US.

Do dragees belong on a banned food list along with Crisco, absinthe, and foie gras ice cream or are they just fine for a sparkly holiday treat?

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