Trend Alert – seems like beer is the newest flavor to trickle into candy. Jelly Belly debuted a non alcoholic Draft Beer Jelly Bean while ChocOBeer in Europe introduced a line of nine chocolates filled with different Belgium beers. They are cleverly packaged in small shaped beer bottles.
The beer and chocolate combination is not new and has been emerging as craft brewers experiment with a variety of ingredients. February is a popular month to launch these seasonal, limited edition chocolate flavors. This year Woodchuck Hard Cider launched the Cellar Series Chocolate and it is crafted with McIntosh and Northern Spy apples and crushed cocao beans. Foothills Brewing is offering it’s Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout that is infused with cocao and is described as having a “big chocolate aroma with notes of espresso, blackstrap molasses, dark sweet toffee and dark fruit.” For those who are not beer drinkers, there’s ChocolatRouge, which features three chocolate flavors blended with red wine – Milk Chocolate, Dark Red, and Sweet Red.
Watch as beer spills into other unexpected categories.
It’s a year to date since I created my TrendIncite Xchange blog and I thought I should reflect. In my very 1st post Moving into the 21st Century I mentioned how lo-tech I am. I still consider myself lo-tech, but I’ve taken a plunge and made a few technological upgrades…
I’ve traded my firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail for email@example.com. I’m now on twitter @trendincite and I actually use it and like it. I find it helpful to research trends quickly and express random observations while they occur instead of waiting to formally write about them.
I upgraded my ancient Blackberry Bold 9930 to a Samsung Galaxy SIII (not 4, because I still don’t need the latest nor did I want to shell out an additional $200). Even my husband who was holding on to his slide phone, which he referred to as his “dumb” phone joined me and took the leap. I’m still adjusting to the touchscreen keyboard and the verdict is not out yet. Check back with me in a few months.
I just created accounts for Instagram and Vine, which I haven’t gotten into yet and really don’t need. By the time I do figure these apps out, I’m sure there will be several new and improved ones and I’ll continue to be behind the times.
As a holiday present, my sister just purchased a Smart TV for my family. I don’t think the kids will be too sad to give up our one and only tube TV. Even though I rarely watch TV, I have to admit I’m a bit excited about the change. The kids have been begging for a tablet, but we haven’t given in yet. We’re considering buying them each one for the holiday, but I’m hoping to hold off for just a little while longer.
Who knows what the upcoming new year will bring. Maybe a year from now, I’ll have embraced technology and be addicted to my Android, the myriad of apps available and my new Smart TV. And maybe my kids will each have their own tablet.
Am I the only one struggling to keep up with technology? By the time I’m comfortable with a current technology, it’s become obsolete.
When I was planning my family weekend trip to Baltimore from New York City to attend the Digital Family Summit (an interactive conference for young digital media creators and their parents) in early October, I was asked if I’d like to test drive a Chevrolet Equinox. I’m a big fan of experiences and trying something new. I would not describe myself as a car person, but thought, sure why not?
My business’ tagline is “Inspiration For Creation” and the core values are to capture inspiration from unexpected places and enjoy the creative process. To facilitate creativity, I often tell my clients that you need to be in tune with your senses at all times. My most acute sense is smell, which is fueled by my work in the fragrance and flavor industry for the last 20 years. Fragrance is such an integral part of my daily experiences, but I think for many its overlooked or an afterthought. Everything I do is a sensory journey, whether it’s a trip to the grocery store or weekend getaway. I approached my Baltimore visit as a fragrant sensory experience, while I assume many of techies and professional bloggers who attended the conference had an analytical and logical perspective.
I was excited and curious to explore the Chevrolet Equinox car that was dropped off on Friday morning before we headed to Baltimore. The first thing I did was open the car door and was delighted to get a whiff of the “new car” smell, which had a masculine, leather like scent. I expected it and would have been disappointed had the smell not been there. For those marketers and brands out there, don’t underestimate the power of scent. After I futzed with the navigation system and pressed some buttons, I was done exploring. The car would meet my immediate needs for the weekend.
In our typical fashion we hit the road an hour and a half later than planned and spent five hours in traffic driving to Baltimore. The weather was chilly, foggy, humid and misty that evening – it rained on and off. While driving with the windows rolled down after it had rained, the air smelled a bit dirty, it was wet with damp, earthy nuances. My daughter liked the scent and thought it was reminiscent of East Hampton after it rains, where we spend our summers.
Being a native New Yorker, without fail whenever I drive on the New Jersey turnpike by exit 13, this industrial, putrid metallic smell of factory waste permeates the car. Visually the landscape of the factories spewing dark clouds of waste looks like a page right out of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax book best described by my late father as “robot vomit.” The rest of the ride was scentless except for a quick stop for gas (I happen to like the smell of gasoline).
We finally arrived at the Hilton Baltimore at 10:30pm. My kids were particularly fascinated with the large and wide revolving door, which they circled multiple times. Besides, observing a few guests clumsily bump into the glass revolving door because it was awkwardly designed and not intuitive, I was intrigued by the scent of the lobby. At first, it smelled citrusy and reminded me of bug spray, which lead me to think it was a hotel guest wearing Jessica McClintock perfume. However, it was an ambient scent that lingered. There’s a trend for public spaces such as hotels, casinos and retailers to scent the air to create positive experiences for their guests. In hindsight, I realized that the Hilton is known for its “olfactive branding” program and I’m guessing the fragrance I smelled, which was fresh, citrus and green tea-like was the “Eau de Hilton.”
Knowing we had a busy day ahead we went to bed. Although exhausted on Saturday morning, I felt compelled to wake up motivated by the loud and cheerful applause I heard outside. Blurry eyed and a bit confused, I looked down from 16 floors. To my delight I saw a sea of brightly colored fluorescent shirts, which belonged to the marathon runners gearing up for the Baltimore marathon. Go runners! I wondered if the air smelled like sweat yet and giggled to myself remembering the scene in The Lonely Guy movie when Steve Martin jogs into a dinner party wearing fake spray-on sweat to pretend he had just worked out.
Slowly making my way to the bathroom, my senses were enlivened by the diffusive scent of Peter Thomas Roth’s Mega-Rich Shampoo (exclusive to Hilton Hotels) that my daughter was lathering in her hair. The aroma was also fresh, citrusy and green. Keeping up with the citrus theme, I showered and then spritzed myself with my new favorite fragrance Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine, which is a bright and juicy scent. It smells just like a fresh-squeezed orange – pithy and rindy.
We made our way to the 2nd floor to attend the Digital Family Summit. I joined my eight year old daughter for a Food Blogging, Styling & Photography workshop with Laura (Lolli) Franklin of Better in Bulk and Robin Zachary of Prop Closet. This class was as aesthetically appealing as it was sensorially stimulating.
Fresh-baked unfrosted chocolate and vanilla cupcakes were the foundation for our hands-on session. I expected the room to smell like the cupcakes had just come out of the oven, like the vanilla-like baking scent that is pumped into NYC’s Crumbs bakeries, but because we were in a hotel conference room and not a kitchen, they had been prepared earlier and the room was missing the aroma. However, the brown and yellow cupcakes were neatly placed on a tray in rows by flavor waiting to be iced, decorated, photographed and eaten. Single colored sprinkles of red, pink, orange, green, blue, yellow and white were individually cupped and lined up monochromatically next to the unfrosted cupcakes. After a brief lesson about the do’s and don’ts of food blogging, styling and photography we broke up into small groups. Using a simple recipe, each group got to craft their own colored frosting using food dye. My daughter’s group created a muted lavender colored icing while other groups created slate blue, Kelly green, turquoise and hot pink colors. The smell of the freshly whipped icing was palpable. It tasted even sweeter than it smelled – sugary sweet, cavity inducing sweet. The kids unleashed their inner designers and decorated their cupcakes with sprinkles, flags, confetti, and polka dotted candles. Using props such as solid-colored napkins, cupcake stands, baking utensils and backdrops cleverly made of patterned wrapping paper glued to foam core boards, they styled their cupcake creations for a fabulous, fashionable and flavorful photo shoot. Practically salivating, the kids could finally reap the rewards of their hard work and taste the long anticipated, tantalizing and tempting results of their masterpieces. Proud, ecstatic and sugar-buzzed, the creative kids and parents left the session on a super, satisfying sugar high.
On Sunday we had a little downtime and opted for a little R&R by visiting the hotel pool. The minute I stepped off of the elevator my nostrils tingled from the pool smell. As I approached the entrance to the pool area, the smell intensified and my nose was assaulted by the overpowering Chlorine odor. I wonder if a fragrance house can create an odor neutralizer to combat Chlorine or fragrance it to create a better scent. My acute reaction to the scent didn’t stop me or my family from enjoying splashing and playing in the pool.
I typically like to visit off the beaten path restaurants and sites when traveling in another city. But when attending a conference, it doesn’t matter where you visit; you rarely get to experience anything but the inside of the hotel. I knew that my family would spend most of our time at the Hilton Baltimore. However, before we left I wanted at least one meal that was representative of Baltimore. Baltimore is known for crabs, which I enjoy eating, but rarely order because they require too much work and the payoff isn’t worth it. Mo’s Crab & Pasta Factory in Little Italy was close by and recommended. As a grand finale to our trip ten of us went there for dinner. We feasted on Crab Cakes, Crab Imperial and Crab Dip in addition to other local dishes. The two things that struck me when we entered the restaurant were the old fashioned cigarette machine with the pull handles and the alluring and distinct aroma of fresh crabs seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning. Since savory scents are kitsch and on trend such as Pizza Hut’s “Eau de Pizza,” White Castle’s Original Slider scented candle and most recently Yankee Candle’s Turkey and Stuffing candle, Old Bay Seasoning should consider creating a signature scent.
We had a great, educational and interactive experience in Baltimore during the Digital Family Summit. Luckily our drive home was smooth and only took three hours with no rain and no traffic. Our visit to Baltimore was brief, but intense. I definitely would like to go back to explore the local flavor and discover unique restaurants and shops adding new scented, colorful and flavorful memories to my sensory journey.
Thanksgiving is around the corner with Christmas on its heels and soon it will be a new year. Here is a list I compiled of some interesting predictions for what food & beverages we’ll be eating in 2014…
I recently had a cup of cold brewed Earl Grey iced tea from Kee’s Chocolates. Besides the fact that I am caffeine sensitive and was up all night, it inspired me to think about how many recent products are using Earl Grey as a flavor. Infused ice cream and desserts seem to be the most popular applications.
Bergamot is a main component of Earl Grey and it is also often used in fine fragrances. I happen to like it as a flavor and fragrance ingredient, but for those that don’t, it’s because Bergamot is often described as “perfumey.”
Earl Grey is trickling into spirits, lollipops and even pancakes. EG – Windsor is a spirit that “captures the tart and tangy caffeinated notes of the bergamot and orange that have been masterfully coaxed from organic, aged Earl Grey black tea blended with freshly harvested organic California sage.” Pandora’s Pop has a Fifty Shades of Earl Grey (black tea and bergamot) lollipop under its Aphrodisiac Lollipops range, which the company claims is made to “Spice Up Your Love Life!” LA’s JiST Café offers Earl Grey Crème Pancakes.
What unique Earl Grey flavor combinations have you seen lately?
In May 2013 I presented Olfactive Trends Quick Peek at Sniffapalooza’s Spring Fling and mentioned “Flash” as the newest naming convention in fine fragrance. September is quickly approaching and you can now get your hands on many of the recent launches inspired by the word.
Olfactive Studio’s Flash Back scent is described as “a memory in motion and in action” while Cacharel’s Amor Amor In A Flash is “the feeling of love at first sight: magnetic, addictive, electric… a moment of never-ending intensity.” Jimmy Choo’s second scent Flash, is the newest player and is a “solar” floral that is “about the thrill of the red carpet, the fun of the nightclub, the glamour of dressing up.”
In flavors, the closest interpretation is Oddka Vodka’s Electricity flavor, which Pernod Ricard states is “a tongue-tickling blend that tastes of fire bolt.” Inspired by the Flash scent, Belvedere Vodka and Jimmy Choo partnered to create a Kuala Lumpur cocktail-fragrance crawl with fun cocktail names such as “Parading on a catwalk” and “Jimmy’s shoe.” The most far fetched recent introduction is Cornetto’s fluorescent ice cream across the pond.
Keep your eyes peeled for more “flash” inspired consumer packaged goods launches. I wonder what will ignite the next catalyst for inspiration. Any thoughts?
Doctor-driven products have been driving skincare launches for the last few years. Now, herbalists are becoming the new formulators and launching natural skincare lines. Christian Toscano of Roots Rose Radish offers a range of 100% natural skincare products originally crafted from plants grown in her garden. Earth Tu Face was launched by Sarah Buscho and Marina Storm, two herbalists in San Francisco. The line is also 100% natural and purely plant-based. Brooklyn Herborium was founded by two Moms who wanted their children to live “chemical-free” lives. Emma Graves an herbalist and Molly Watman a graphic designer, created the The Clean & Green Collection for babies, kids, new and expecting moms. Dr. Fedorenko is a clinical herbalist, naturopath and dermatologist M.D. who recently introduced Dr. Fedorenko True Organic Tick & Mosquito Repellent, which is DEET and alcohol-free, organic certified and formulated with essential oils.
Expect to see more herbalists join the trend and craft natural beauty products to meet consumers’ growing demand for natural products.
As a board member of Women in Flavor & Fragrance Commerce (WFFC), I recently organized our sixth annual sensory trend excursion with my colleague Jeanine Pedersen of Takasago. We chose Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In my industry career, this by far was the most challenging tour to design. The biggest obstacle was finding local retailers to participate. For more details, read my recent Fuhgeddaboudit! post.
However, the five retailers that did participate are gems! Without a doubt, add them to your must do list when visiting Williamsburg.
For our first stop, 29 attendees gathered outside Fabiane’s Cafe & Pastry. Fabiane greeted us as we delighted in an iced coffee or tea and homemade Yucca cake, a gluten free pastry made with Yucca, coconut milk, milk, sugar, eggs, and coconut flakes. Fabiane addressed each guest and discussed her Brazilian background with her French culinary training and gave a little background about her cafe. Additionally she surprised us with a bag of granola as a parting gift, which took her 10 years to perfect the recipe.
We mosied on over to Juice Press, a growing chain of cold-pressed juice bars; this location was brand spanking new, it opened in May. Liz shared the company’s history and explained the cold-pressed process. Then we sampled the Watermelon Super Cleanser, Mother Earth, Dr. Green, and Almond Butter Cup Smoothie, all which only contain “organic calories.” The Watermelon was the group’s darling and my personal favorite. It tasted just like you placed a straw in a fresh watermelon. The Almond Butter Cup Smoothie was tasty with a creamy, nutty banana flavor and hint of cinnamon, but some couldn’t get past the gritty texture. The two green drinks were more of an acquired taste, a bit bitter and astringent, but nonetheless fresh, flavorful and healthful.
Moving to the fragrance side, our third destination was Woodley & Bunny. If you like niche, hard to find beauty products, look no further. Devon, Zeek, and Summer graciously hosted us as we explored, smelled and tried a variety of fragrances, skin care, bath and body care, and hair care products as well as candles. An aside, I often read and write about indie brands, but because of limited distribution I don’t always get to experience them. I’ve never seen so many products that I’ve read about or written about in one place. It was like a curated, indie beauty emporium.
By now our group had worked up an appetite, so we headed to Allswell restaurant. Based on the farm to table concept, the menu changes daily and is dependent on what’s in season and locally available. If you’re looking for a quaint, comfortable and warm restaurant with fresh food you’ve come to the right place. We started with a Ginless Wonder mocktail crafted with fresh squeezed lime, honey syrup, ginger syrup, club soda, cucumber, fresh strawberries and Oro Blanco. I learned that Oro Blanco (white gold) is a type of grapefruit. Let’s see if this becomes a trend. For a starter, we feasted on homemade olive bread with house-made Ricotta cheese and a crisp, hearty beet salad. For lunch I had their signature crispy chicken sandwich. Others enjoyed their proprietary burger made with Vermont Quality Meat or their homemade sourdough flatbread with Ricotta, kale, and fried egg. As if we weren’t full enough, we concluded our meal with a strawberry rhubarb slab pie with fresh whipped cream. Delicious!
The perfect finish to our sensory excursion was a final stop at Mast Brothers Chocolate. The overwhelming, raw smell of chocolate wafts through your nostrils as you approach and enter the artisan shop. Meghan explained that the shop only uses two ingredients – cocoa and cane sugar; hence the wide array of dark chocolates. We sampled the limited edition Vanilla Smoke and Maple Cream bars as well as other flavors such as Olive & Sinclair Sea Salt, Stumptown Coffee and Chile Pepper. I’m a sweet, cheap chocolate fan (Oh Henry candy bars are my favorite) and my palette is not sophisticated enough to get past the bitterness of the dark chocolate to taste and appreciate the subtle sweetness nor the smoke of the vanilla and maple flavors. My personal favorite was the sea salt. That combination worked for me because the salt alleviated some of the bitter flavor. Regardless of my preferences, for chocolate fans, this shop is a no-brainer.
Our WFFC guests experienced a truly unique sensory trend excursion in North Williamsburg where their senses were engaged and tickled as they left full and satiated.
A very big thank you to all of the retailers who participated! I look forward to returning; I know I’ll be back and I’m pretty sure others will too.