Tearless Onions Are Finally Here

December 20, 2017

Save your tears. Literally. Because an onion that keeps you from crying could soon be yours. And while we’ve worked around more than enough methods to keep from blubbering while chopping our beloved onions, this development comes highly anticipated. Meet the Sunion.

According to a report featured in the LA Times, these Sunions aren’t even genetically modified—they’re the product of 30 years of meticulous crossbreeding at the hands of devoted farmers. Apparently, the Sunion is sweet and crunchy. So, kind of like an onion, just no tears. I can get behind that.

When you cut an onion, it releases a sharp chemical compound called lachrymatory-factor synthase, which when it wafts into our eyes leaves us weepier than the end of Erin Brokovich. The Sunion, however, is stark, emotionless. And for once, that’s good! The amount of lachrymatory-factor synthase being released actually decreases as you cut into a Sunion. In a test trial, choppers preferred the experience of cutting a Sunion five to one when compared to a regular onion.

Shop the Story

Picture it: You assemble your mise en place and grab your knife, but instead of the usual, bleary-eyed, gasping-for-air situation that occurs as you dice onions—be they red, white, or yellow; they don’t discriminate!—you can actually slice through the allium unscathed, tear ducts as dry as sandpaper.

The Sunions are currently being grown in Nevada and Washington, with plans for nationwide a rollout sometime in late December in the works. They’re to be sold until March or April, or until supplies last. Which, if everyone’s as excited for them as I am, shouldn’t be too long.

Would you try a Sunion? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Katelinlee
  • Reg Nand
    Reg Nand
  • Jusika
  • Panfusine
  • Jeanne
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Katelinlee December 21, 2017
I don't think the GMO mention was particularly negative, and there are other reasons to be concerned about GMOs besides the safety of the food item itself, such as increased pesticide use in the form of Roundup.
Reg N. December 21, 2017
perhaps instead of throwing around the phrase 'genetic manipulation' or 'genetic modification' all blase like its the worst thing ever, use the term 'genetically engineered' which is what you actually mean? it really is sad that people use these terms interchangeably without actually knowing what they mean. its like anti-vaxxers all over again.
and just for the record, i do actually support genetically engineered foods, especially in this day and age with our dwindling resources
Calla December 21, 2017
Thank you! I agree that genetically engineered foods have enormous potential to help solve issues related to land use, nutrition, and food shortages. And I really think that if people took the time to understand what genetic engineering is and how this relates to food they would see the advantage as well. Food52 and similar websites have a platform that they could use to help people understand this issue. If they don't want to do that though, the least they could do is not help spread misperceptions.
Jusika December 21, 2017
Isn’t cross-breeding also a form of genetic manipulation? Very surprised to see such an egregious error on food52.
Valerio F. December 21, 2017
Thanks for bringing this up! I looked into what you said, and an LA Times article confirms that there was no genetic modification used. To make it more clear, I've added a link to the LA times article in the text. Hope this helps.
Wes M. December 21, 2017
So what's being modified in the onion that allows it to be tearless? Is it the genes or.....?
Calla December 21, 2017
This is getting ridiculous right? I am begging food52 to please educate your writers and editors about genetics. It's 2017 for goodness sake. Genes produce observable traits. If you want to change the traits you have to change the genes. You can do this in a lab with precise gene editing tools or you can do it by cross-breeding . Either way you are modifying the genes, which is FINE. We have modified the genes of literally everything that we eat. Also, there is no evidence to indicate that modifying genes in a laboratory poses any more risk to human health than modifying them by "traditional" farming and breeding techniques.
Panfusine December 20, 2017
Where can I buy these sunions?
Jeanne December 20, 2017
I would love to try the sunions. Please send me info about purchasing.Thank you, Jeanne Fix
ks December 20, 2017
Agreed, it's really disappointing to see anti-GMO sentiment thrown around thoughtlessly (and, as Calla notes, incorrectly) on here.
Calla December 20, 2017
Wow these sound amazing! Just for reference though, cross-breeding IS genetic manipulation, its just a less efficient tool than what is used in labs. And as much as I love food52, I am very disappointing that they are helping to feed the fear and frenzy over GMOs instead of helping to educate people about science and agriculture. It's great to have an opinion, but we should all start from a place of knowledge and facts.
Wes M. December 21, 2017
I couldn't have said it better.