Reflections of a Retired Flavorist Before He Forgets: Cocoa

When I was a young flavorist, requests for chocolate, coffee, tomato or meat flavors were not answered or were countered with an inadequate sample. When the request was for several of these, it indicated one of two things: it was an attempt either to get rid of the salesman or to determine if, by chance, the user may have discovered a firm far ahead in flavor technology.

Attempts at cocoa or chocolate flavors were overly dependent on vanillin, supplemented by honey notes—phenyl ethyl acetate, methyl phenyl acetate, etc. Iso amyl salicylate was also a favorite component but these renditions were far from cocoa or chocolate and, at best, were used to stretch the cocoa or chocolate flavor. We felt we had made a leap forward when we first used pyridine, even if the results were quite crude.

In our discussions with Mr. Robert Fries, Sr. (see our article on Peach, Perf & Flav, 17(1) 35), about the fortunate accident that led to the production of crude undecalactone and the then famous peach, he told me that in the same period another reaction, on a different product, went awry and developed a wonderful cocoa aroma. Unfortunately, attempts to reproduce it were unsuccessful and the first reacted cocoa flavor passed into history.

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