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Digitally Released Aroma and the Flavorist

Contact Author J. Stephan Jellinek
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Many of the most pleasurable culinary experiences happen before you take the first bite or sip: think of the enticing scent of pizza just coming out of the oven that makes you stop in front of a pizza place when you hadn’t even been aware that you were getting hungry; of the aroma of freshly brewed coffee that makes you forget the pain of having to get out of bed early; of the warm, subtle blend of spices and seafood and cream that makes your mouth water when the waitress puts a bowl of lobster bisque down in front of you. The aroma of foods and beverages can be a powerful message of pleasures to come. Its appeal, how– ever, is a fragile thing. If it comes at the wrong time or the wrong place, or it if comes on too intensely or lingers too long, enticement turns to surfeit. Some of the fi nest gourmet scents, say, of a ripe cheese or of seafood, can be a dubious pleasures if you don’t know precisely what it is you are smelling. Such limitations have, up until now, severly limited the application of food and beverage aroma in consumer communication. With the introduction of digital aroma release technology, this situation is changing dramatically.

The Technology In this technology, an aroma, dispersed in a specially selected solvent system, is adsorbed on a chemically inert carrier material, again selected for its compatability within the total system, and released in a stream of carrier gas at an electronically controlled moment for a brief and precisely controllable time span through an outlet ergonomically designed (taking the density and velocity of the carrier gas stream into account) to lead it to the consumer’s nose with minimal spill-over to the environment. Thanks to this sophisticated delivery system, the consumer experiences a brief, tantalizing whiff of, say, fresh fruit, of aromatic coffee, of hot pizza. Combined with the message from the speakers and on the video screen that are part of some point-of-sale units, the experience becomes enveloping and enticingly vivid.

To make this happen, the appropriate aromas are obviously an essential part of the mix. Depending on the type of aroma desired, the task of providing such aromas ranges from simply selecting a few promising candidates from among existing formulations to challenging development projects. My experience with aerome — some five years — with many different aromas has taught me a great deal about which types of flavors work best and which ones require visual support to be enticing.