Yes Really – Blue, Vanilla-Flavoured Bananas Exist. Here's Why You'll Never Eat One

Probably, anyway.
Kseniya Ovchinnikova via Getty Images

Every once in a while, you see something on social media that sends you down an instant rabbit hole. And today, dear readers, it’s blue, vanilla-flavoured bananas.

What I found mid-deep dive delighted and enraged me in equal measures. Yes, the beautiful fruit does exist – but you and I are unlikely to ever eat it.

On top of all that, it seems everyone’s favourite fruit is at pretty severe risk from total extinction.

Here’s everything you need to know about the mythical-seeming berries (yes, I also found out bananas are berries) – and why you probably won’t get to enjoy their vanilla-flavoured insides.

Yes, the blue banana is real

Despite sounding like an April Fool’s, blue bananas are not only real, but they’re also delicious.

Also known as “ice cream” bananas thanks to their vanilla flavour and fluffy, soft interior, blue java bananas are native to multiple tropical areas like Hawaii, southeast Asia, and central America.

Their signature blue hue comes from a waxy layer that covers their skin – though it evens out to more of a pale green hue when the plant is ripe.

They’re really hardy, too, making them easy to grow in tough climes.

Um, I want one?

Me too. But we’ll likely never taste one – in fact, we’re missing out on most of the bananas that have ever existed.

The fact that you can’t get blue bananas in most supermarkets is due to high export costs – though you can buy a Blue Java tree if you really want to try the fruit.

But in general, we’re being deprived of many, many banana varieties due to suppliers relying mostly on the Cavendish banana (the yellow one we’re all used to).

“Although there are more than 1,000 banana varieties in the world, the Cavendish makes up almost the entirety of global banana exports,” says Kew gardens.

Until the 1950s, the most common banana was the Gros Michel – a larger and seemingly more delicious variety than our current go-to.

But because of its dominance over supermarket shelves, the Gros Michel was aggressively farmed to the point where it didn’t have enough biodiversity to breed by itself. This meant that once the species got sick, much of the world’s banana population ran out.

The Cavendish banana faces the same fate. They’ve been bred not to have seeds, meaning they can’t reproduce. They’re facing a variant of Panama disease, the same thing that killed off their Gros Michel forefathers.

And whereas before, the Cavendish was a reasonable stand-in for the crowd-pleaser, our current fave (which was already a back-up) has no clear successor.

“A banana that looks and tastes like the Cavendish, that is suitable for commercial growing, and that can withstand long journeys does not exist,” says Kew Gardens.