Good Enough To Eat: The Gourmand Fragrance February 26, 2015 10:42

“What a delectable fragrance you’re wearing….”

The Gourmand Fragrance:  Scents comprising intense, often sweet foodie notes such as vanilla, melon, candy and liquorice, tempt and delight the senses.  Not least because of the inextricable link between the sense of taste and smell; who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked cinnamon muffins or freshly brewed coffee?  And what amazing childhood memories are harboured in the enveloping whiff of candy floss at the fair, or the wide eyed excitement at your first taste of Turkish Delight?

40 years ago, perfumers may have laughed at the notion of lifting notes from the local bakery.  But food that tastes good smells good, right? (with the possible exception of the notorious ‘Durian’ – a tropical fruit that tastes great but smells awful: a veritable perfumer’s nightmare).  And not only do such culinary inspired scents evoke happy memories and uplift the spirit, they may work on a deeper, subconscious level. 

In a famous study in 1994, Hirsch investigated the relationship between male arousal and various female floral fragrances and perfumes.  His control reference was the scent of baked cinnamon buns – the perfect scent against which to test the alluring power of the traditional French Parfumerie, surely. 


It so transpired that the most effective male sexual stimulus  was the scent of the humble cinnamon bun.  A further study by Hirsch confirmed his findings that Gourmand inspired smells were sexier to men than the standard women’s perfumes, with a pumpkin pie-lavender concoction being by far the most, ahem, effective… followed by black liquorice doughnut mixture, and leaving the old faithful fragrances trailing at the bottom of the results table.  If only Freud were alive today…

Chocolate fragrance notes

So: has any perfumer actually tackled the infamously repulsive smell of the apparently delicious Durian fruit? (described by one internet commenter as smelling ‘sort of like a combination of rotten meat, sour milk, old gym shoes and maybe a touch of dog do’).  Well.. not to my knowledge, and certainly not successfully enough to be stocked in your local department store.   However, one perfume house has attempted to convert that which smells repulsive into a marketable fragrance. The  niche and rather notorious Parisian fragrance house Etat Libre D’Orange has dabbled in this area with the release of ‘Charogne‘, literally translated as ‘corpse’.  Perhaps the heady scent of roadkill on a summer’s evening is not the most obvious choice of inspiration for a fragrance; however I’m pleased (or perhaps a little disappointed) to report that it does not quite live up to its namesake, with notes of vanilla, cardamom, lily and leather adding up to an earthy and sensual fragrance, with an almost animalistic quality.

Ultimately, it has been proven repeatedly that gourmand fragrances have a lot going for them: if your head tells you it’s weird, listen to your heart.  And if your heart agrees with your head, then listen to your loins.  And  if you do find yourself getting strangely aroused whilst queuing at your local Cinnabon… don’t worry, the evidence shows that you are not alone.