One of the most intriguing problems I have ever faced was the challenge of working out how to compound flavors completely on a small robot compounding machine. The machine would only hold 500 raw materials, so the biggest decision was how to narrow the raw materials down to such a small number without sacrificing the ability to create interesting, commercialquality flavors.
One of the raw materials that made the final cut was acetanisole, commonly referred to as para-methoxy acetophenone (FEMA# 2005, CAS# 100-06-1). The character of this chemical can best be described as hawthorn—something that might be expected to fit better within the floral note of a fine fragrance than within the ultimate short list of flavor raw materials. This profile is not exactly unique in flavors.
Acetophenone (FEMA# 2009, CAS# 98-86-2) is also primarily hawthorn in character and is also widely used in flavors, but the note is noticeably harsher and faintly phenolic, so acetophenone did not make the cut. 4’-Methylacetophenone (FEMA# 2677, CAS# 122-00-9) is less harsh than acetophenone and can be useful in fruit flavors. On the other hand, 2-hydroxyacetophenone (FEMA# 3548, CAS# 118-93-4) is quite phenolic and is generally more helpful in savory and brown flavors. The most recent “hawthorn” addition to the GRAS list is 4-hydroxyacetophenone (FEMA# 4330, CAS# 99-93-4). This ingredient is much softer and more floral than 2-hydroxyacetophenone and works well to soften smoke flavors.