Wait. Reading the description on the “Strawberry Sour”-flavored chewing gum package made me do a double take. In English, adjectives have a proper order. It’s vital. You can’t just place them randomly in the sentence. The correct order is:
observation (lovely, sweet, boring)
origin (British, Swiss)
material (silk, gold)
then the main noun phrase – as in “sour + apple + chewing gum”. Practically speaking, this is borne out by taste junkies who have made “sour apple” an appealing flavor. Sour seems to walk the tightrope of good and bad: the wine or the cream may have gone sour; diplomatic relations soured; or, the day ended on a sour note – it doesn’t conjure up very positive feelings. But sour apple does – it’s hard to deny that you can taste it as you imagine it on your tongue.
So, “Sour Strawberry” would be the expected descriptor with the adjective in the right place on the brand’s packaging. Perhaps that phrase was thrown out because a “sour strawberry” isn’t enticing. Or, maybe it stemmed from a literal translation from French, where the adjective usually follows the noun, thus leading to “Strawberry Sour” (which I reckon was probably also the case for the “Flavour Green Mint” designation on the chewing gum’s Airfresh packaging). But it could just as well have been a wily product idea to create something new and unexpected. A whiskey sour elevates “sour” to a noun, and is described in the Oxford Dictionaries as, “a drink made by mixing a spirit with lemon or lime juice”.
So – may I have a strawberry sour, please?