By Noah Kaufman
Updated April 02, 2015
Credit: iStockphoto

Onions are a building block of so many dishes—stocks, soups, stir-fries—not to mention vital as a burger topping. The downsides to onions, though, are well-documented: Namely, they make you cry and turn your breath into something dangerous. But the Japanese firm that discovered the cause of the tears and the stink has now developed onions that produce neither. In 2013, House Foods won the Ig Nobel Prize for its earlier research into why onions cause the problems they do. It turns out that when onions are cut, compounds in the cells that had previously been kept separate combine to form new, problematic enzymes that can get in our eyes, hands and mouths. However, House Foods announced earlier this week that it has successfully engineered onions that are so low in the tear-causing enzymes that none of the company’s employees suffered at all when cutting and eating them. According to a translated release from House Foods, the onions “not only reduce tears but should put a smile on the face of whoever is in the kitchen.” For the moment, though, they are keeping the smiles to themselves—no decisions have been made with regard to production for mass distribution. Until then, take this tip from the pros: Refrigerate your onions for an extended period before you cut them. They cause fewer tears that way.