I Cry When I Chop Onions—Here’s What Helped Me Deal
No, I didn’t have to give up the veg or strap on goggles.
Ever wondered why onions make you cry when you’re chopping them? It’s because when they're cut, they produce a gas (called syn-propanethial-S-oxide—try saying that five times fast) that is designed to irritate your eyes. It actually works the same way that tear gas does. Essentially, it's the plant's predator response—if an animal bites the plant, it stings that creature's eyes, and the animal learns to stay away.
Old Wives’ tales recommend off-the-wall tactics like holding a piece of bread in your mouth or wearing goggles—which, sorry, no sane person will actually do, no matter how many tears onions make them shed.
But I need to try something. I feel personally victimized by onions—no matter what kind they are, I sprout tears like I’m a kid on their first day of kindergarten. Oddly enough, I notice that I only cry when I’m not wearing my contact lenses. But, let’s be real, I’m not going to leave my kitchen to put in a pair of contacts just so I can chop onions for dinner. And wearing contacts isn’t an ideal solution for everyone—some people are #blessed with 20/20 vision, while others need to wear glasses.
But thankfully, there's a new option: Sunions. According to their website, they are scientifically cross-bred and “certified tearless” by the Bayer Sensory Lab and the Ohio State University Sensory Evaluation Center. They’re also guaranteed to become sweeter every day instead of more volatile and pungent (read: tear-inducing).
Tearless onions seemed too good to be true. So when the opportunity to try them out came along, I jumped at the chance.
In order to find out if these were the real deal, we needed to test them against some regular onions, and see whether there was a difference. So I dragged Cooking Light’s digital editor, Christopher Michel, into a test kitchen, we removed our contacts, put on our glasses, and got to chopping.
We compared red, white, and sweet onions to Sunion’s tearless onions to see which ones left us dry-eyed, and which ones made us look like we just watched an episode of This Is Us.
The verdict? I’m apparently very ~sensitive~ to all onions (particularly red and white), while Christopher is an alien/robot with no tear ducts. 23andMe should do a DNA test, because apparently some people are genetically predisposed to cry the second their knife hits onion skin, while others can stick their faces in a pile of chopped onions and not even feel their eyes tingle (lookin’ at you, Chris).
The one thing both Chris and I could agree on? The Sunions totally worked—not only are they completely tear-free, but we both really liked the taste. They’re mild and slightly sweet, but have the crunch and pungency of onions we love. But they lack a little of the acrid-ness that comes with traditional yellow onions. They would be great cooked or raw on a salad or sandwich. And luckily, they’re readily available in many large grocery stores so you don't have to order them online.