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Let There Be Light: 50 Years of Hedione

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: August 23, 2011, from the September 2011 issue of P&F magazine.

Firmenich master perfumer Jacques Cavallier was just a child when he first encountered Hedione, which he calls "the first universal transparent note." His father, also a perfumer, had come home with a sample intended for perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, whose breakthrough Eau Sauvage (Christian Dior) was powered by a 3% dose of the new ingredient. Cavallier's father handed the boy a blotter, which he held up to his nose, declaring, "I smell nothing." Cavallier's father urged him, "Keep the blotter beside your bed and you will tell me more tomorrow." Seated in Firmenich's Paris creative center decades later, Cavallier recalls, "During the night, I was awoken by a smell. And in the morning, on the blotter was the beauty, the grace of a jasmine field in the morning—a jasmine that was greener, less animalic ... Hedione is a perfume itself."

Today, due to its versatility, power and ever more affordable pricing, the ingredient is used at increasingly higher doses in fi ne fragrance and has been applied in all perfumery segments. On this, the ingredient’s 50th anniversary, Perfumer & Flavorist magazine sat down with a trio of Firmenich’s master perfumers to discuss this signature ingredient, its effects in classic fragrances, and its place in the continuing evolution of aroma molecule R&D.

Modern, Multifaceted

The story of Hedione began in 1957 when Firmenich researcher Edouard Demole identifi ed methyl jasmonate as the heart of a jasmine fl ower fraction. He soon synthesized its dihydro derivative, methyl dihydrojasmonate, which was commercialized as Hedione, a name derived from the Greek word hedone, which is roughly translated as hedonism or pleasure. The fi rst batch of 50 kg was produced in 1961, with ton batches created in the 1970s.

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