Sensational Technology

Trendincite icon NoseTidbits Issue 39 April/May 2014
This originally published on May 19, 2014

One of my favorite subjects is multi-sensory products and services. Trendincite examined this exciting topic in various Tidbits issues: High-Tech Sensory Sensations (March/April ’13), Sensory Sensations (November/December ’11), Multi-Sensory Experiences (October/November ’10), You Fill Up My Senses (May/June ’09), and Sensory Overload (February ’08). A year later, there are a variety of new, unique and interactive experiences driven by  technology.

Bookworm: Seems like literature goes hand in hand with food. In Amsterdam, there’s The Bookish Banquet, a culinary event for bookworms that serves five course meals inspired by themes in literature with narration between courses. Dinah Fried, a graphic artist, published the Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals, in which Fried cooked all the meals, staged all the shots and took “literary food” photographs.

Touch to Smell: In Australia, celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal launched a new range of food products named Heston for Coles, which highlights indigenous ingredients. For the launch, the company introduced a national, scented print advertising campaign for the Lemon Myrtle Hot Cross Buns. AROMAFORK™ is a new patented cutlery designed to create a novel and intense olfactive experience. In fashion, Naked & Famous Denim’s newest release is its mint scratch-n-sniff jeans, which is said to last for up to five washes. In beauty, Revlon introduced Parfumerie™ Scented Nail Enamel in 24 scented colors, while Bitty Bettys is a collectible fragrance line with ‘Touch to Sniff’ cartons. CVS even offers a scratch n sniff chocolate scented gift card.

Tech Smells: There has been a lot of activity in scents and cell phones as well as other technological categories. Dr. David Edwards engineered the oPhone, a new device that will send scents like text messages. Oscar Mayer created a Wake Up and Smell the Bacon app and device, which was an alarm clock with a sizzling bacon sound and scent. Scentee from Japan is a round device, which plugs into an earphone jack and releases different fragrances with each incoming notification. Crowdfunded on Indiegogo, the Atomyzer iPhone case holds “60 sprays” of fragrance or hand sanitizer in a refillable cartridge. Sensabubble is a new programmed system, which will enable users to feel colors, icons, texts, and mentions from twitter in a bubble filled with a “scented fog.” Scent Rhythm is a chemical-based watch that emits fragrance in minute doses that are in tune with your circadian cycle. Mercedes-Benz 2014 S-Class sedans offer a built-in fragrance atomizer in four custom colognes – Freeside Mood (light citrus),Nightlife Mood (spice, oud), Downtown Mood (floral, musk), and Sports Mood (green, citrus). Although not scented, an interesting limited edition product is Nescafé’s Alarm Cap, which features a built-in  alarm clock that wakes consumers with seven different sounds synchronized to lights. To turn the alarm off, one must open the lid.

Vending is Trending: Vending machines are not new. In fact, the first US vending machine was built in 1888. However, technology has advanced and now there are a slew of new vending machines with a focus on food. The much anticipated Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, which launched in Chicago in 2012, is now in NYC on the Upper East Side. Located in CA, Burritobox is a new vending machine that delivers five different types of burritos on demand while Let’s Pizza kneads dough, mixes fresh ingredients and adds select toppings in three minutes. For a piece of luxury, Los Angeles Beverly Hills Caviar has three vending machines that offer high-end food such as caviar, escargots and truffles. For the health conscious, Chicago-based Farmer’s Fridge is self described as a “veggie machine” that prepares daily salads made from local farm produce. Any leftovers from the previous day are donated to a foodbank.

Food is Fashionable: Fashion and food are being paired and the newest trend is the opening of restaurants inside department stores as a part of the shopping experience. Guerlain Le 68 restaurant inside the Champs-Elysées flagship store highlights Michelin-star French chef Guy Martin who uses Guerlain perfumes as an inspiration for the menu. For example he offers dishes like foie gras with Madagascar vanilla in puff pastry, or pearly cod in “little black dress” licorice, and macarons from the garden of Shalimar. Both Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue have recently launched restaurants inside their stores – Stella 34 Trattoria in Macy’s NYC and Sophie’s in Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Saks. This summer, Brooks Brothers will launch Makers and Merchants, a steakhouse. A new one to watch is Bouley Botanical from Chef David Bouley. It’s an “indoor farm” and restaurant that has 24 growing boxes, which use organic soil and feature 70 plants and herbs. The space hosts yoga classes and wellness events.

Want more tidbits? Read Eurocosmetics spa and hair care articles or Visit 4 Latin Countries Without Leaving NYC . See what’s trending from Sniffapalooza’s Spring Fling or get inspired by watching MarketingProfs Take 10: Three Ways to Find Creative Inspiration Outside the Office video. Attend an upcoming NYC Trendincite presentation at HBA on June 12, 2014 or SFC Symposium on October 9, 2014.

Let Trendincite custom-design or curate a sensational trend excursion to engage your five senses and stimulate new product ideas. So what are you waiting for?
Contact us at inquiries@trendincite.com or at 888-561-1229. Feel free to forward this e-mail to friends and colleagues who need to be in the know or have them subscribe to Tidbits.

My Sensory Journey To Baltimore, MD

Welcome to Baltimore (photo by Jimmy Emerson)
Welcome to Baltimore (photo by Jimmy Emerson)

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.

Sporty Equinox Car
Sporty Equinox Car

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.

Baltimore Marathon 10-12-13
Baltimore Marathon 10-12-13

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.

Masterpiece from my daughter's group
Masterpiece from my daughter’s group

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.

Eau De Trendincite – A Scent of My Own

Eau De TrendIncite
Eau De Trendincite

I was so inspired by our last hands-on TrendIncite Xchange meeting that I decided to continue the “creativity and inspirational me” theme and reached out to Sue Phillips of Scenterprises. Sue lead our group on a creative fragrance journey, where each of us created our own custom scent. I’ve been in the fragrance and flavor industry for 20 years and until now I’ve never created my own signature scent.

Eight of us gathered at Sue’s apartment where she explained the seven major olfactive categories – Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Oriental, Chypre, Woody and Fougere. Sue compared fragrances to food and music and explained that each had a beginning, a middle and an end.  In fragrance terms that translates to top notes, middle notes and base notes. We were then given a lifestyle questionnaire with 11 questions about our preferences that ranged from fabrics to seasons to vacation spots to film icons.  We individually tallied our responses, which corresponded to four olfactive categories – Citrus, Floral, Oriental and Woody. Then Sue shared 14 fragrance accords with us such as Balsamic, Citrus, Green, Mossy, Ozonic, and Rose Floral.  After evaluating the accords on blotters we were encouraged to choose up to four of our favorite fragrance directions, which would be used to create our custom, signature scents. I choose the Citrus, Gentle Floral, Balsamic and Woody accords and voilà Eau de Trendincite was born.  It is rather sweet and smells differently than I expected. It does have a sweet figgy and plum accord, which I like. The verdict is not out yet as I’m still getting accustomed to the fragrance and evaluating it. However, my mother and daughter love it!

Working for three leading fragrance houses, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Fragrance is a very personal experience and much more complex than one may think. I thought I would be formulating my own scent with my favorite accords – Bergamot, Orange flower and Vetiver with a hint of Musk and Vanilla. This was not the case. Sue uses a predetermined set of finished accords.  I enjoyed my experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to create my own scent. Sue’s fragrance exercise is perfect for fragrance novices who are looking to creatively express themselves with a custom signature scent.

 

The Scent of a Memory

L-R: Amy and Gaby

I orginally submitted this article for Vol iii: The Social Olfactory, The State, but it didn’t make the cut.  I thought this would be an appropriate place to post it.

I’ve been in the fragrance and flavor industry for twenty years, the last seven years as the founder of Trendincite LLC, and I’ve yet to write about my own personal experiences with scent and scent memories. Whether I write for Tidbits, Trendincite’s bimonthly newsletter, or for Forward Thinking, my column in Perfumer & Flavorist magazine, the material focuses on the parallel relationship between fragrances and flavors. Like several colleagues, I fell into the industry and once here, I stayed. I have a keen sense of smell, which was always there from childhood, but was refined by working in the industry with experts.

When I think back to childhood, there are several familiar scents that take me to a certain place and time.  In elementary school, I distinctly remember the scent of vomit. I had a visceral reaction…when a kid in school vomited, the smell alone created a knee jerk reaction and often caused me to gag and then puke. I have a seven year old daughter and four year old son and to this day if they throw up, I gag and it takes every ounce of me to hold back my smell instincts. I feel similarly about the smell of garbage, particularly on a hot summer’s day in New York City – I flash back to the foul smell of rotting fish and spoiled food in Chinatown or urine soaked New York City subways.  In East Hampton when the wind blows in the wrong direction, the smell of dank, wet salty and dirty seaweed wafts into my nostrils. As you drive along a country road, the quick, passing whiff of a skunk is unforgettable.  And I’d be remiss if I left out the smell of mulch – manure combined with a sweaty, salty body odor note, most unpleasant.

In contrast, I absolutely love the scent of fresh baked bread – a little sweet, salty and yeasty. I’ve been trying, as I’m sure others have been, to have a perfumer create a fresh baked bread fragrance that accurately captures the yeast accord. I can’t wait until a perfumer nails this scent. Mark my words – it will be an instant success.  There’s also nothing like the smell of fresh cut grass even if there is cis-3-Hexen-1-ol. Or the smell of potato fields – dry, starchy and a bit earthy. And the sweet, honey hay-like scent that I smell while passing open fields.

These are just a few examples of my scent recollections. My personal scent memories and specific scent associations help me recognize certain fragrances or ingredients based solely on what they remind me of.  When I smell a grapey note like the one used in Giorgio perfume, it takes me back to Dimetapp, the cough medicine I took as a child, and I recognize Methyl anthranilate.  I disliked Dimetapp as a child and therefore I do not like the cloying scent of Giorgio now. Anything with orange flower strikes a chord and brings me back to Bain De Soleil Orange Gelee sun tanning lotion; some feel this way about Coppertone. It’s the signature smell of summer, which I loved as a child and am still fond of today.  In the 80’s when I was a teenager, my peers wore Tea Rose perfume, an aldehydic rose floral, which I thought smelled like old ladies. Today when I analyze fragrance market research data, respondents frequently describe aldehydic floral notes as “old lady” and “grandma like.” This reaffirms my teenage evaluation of Tea Rose perfume before I even had “aldehydic” in my vocabulary.

In hindsight, who knew that my childhood scent experiences would be the stepping stones that launched my career in fragrance?  Unbeknownst to me, all of these childhood scent memories have directly impacted my sensibilities. I now recognize that creating signature scents and worthy scent memoires for consumers is a tall order to fill. I appreciate a scent that is polarizing and recognizable, often a blockbuster signature like Angel, because whether you love it or hate it, you remember it. I applaud perfumers who are able to create these signature scents that stand out from the crowd. Knowing that fragrances can create such an emotive response intrigues me and makes the fragrance and flavor industry exciting and ever changing.

From my twenty years of industry experience, I am hypersensitive to smell – both good and bad.  I’m grateful for this ability and find myself at any given time instinctively and habitually smelling products, foods or beverages prior to buying, ingesting or using.  Today my children mimic me and smell everything from fresh flowers to public restroom soap. They’re so scent aware that they can both recognize cherry almond because more than half of New York public restrooms, particularly restaurants use it.  And when they don’t recognize the smell of the soap, in surprise they ask, “Mommy what does this smell like?”  By this process, they are creating their own scent memories.

Smell is such an integral aspect of our being, but we often take it for granted.  The odd thing is that I have an identical twin sister who is anosmic and lost her sense of smell due to a childhood accident. We are similar in so many ways, but one defining difference is that I have an acute sense of smell and she has none.  I can’t imagine life without smell nor working in any other industry.