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Pass the (Stinky) Cheese, Please!

This week, the warm weather got me thinking about vacation. But with actual travel plans still a few weeks away, I made do with a mini-staycation: a long, lazy French style picnic in the park. And by French-style, I mean a picnic with a heavy emphasis on BREAD and CHEESE. The baguette was so good and the cheese so creamy, that if squinted a bit, I could almost believe that I was picnicking in the Jardin de Luxembourg, in Paris. The experience got me pondering cheese as, really, a joyful mystery of life. How is it that cheese can be so stinky but we like it so much? Luckily, science has an answer.  The notable cheese stench comes from bacteria...

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Deconstructing the Scent of Chocolate

Today, February 15, is one of my favorite unofficial holidays. As the day after all the Valentine drama, today is the day when stores massively mark down all chocolate that is heart-shaped or wrapped in pink paper. Perhaps surpassed only by November 1, today is the best day for affordable gluttony. (Or if one chooses to focus on the numerous reports about the myriad of benefits from chocolate, then today could be viewed as an opportunity to stock up on healthy essentials.) One of the most enticing ways that chocolate shops draw in customers is with their amazing scent. How to even describe the scent of melting chocolate? Peter Schieberle and the research team at the German Research Center for...

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It Smells Like Snow

The Gilmore Girls revival began last month with Lorelai Gilmore demonstrating olfactory skills worthy of the Weather Channel, as she excitedly proclaimed ‘I smell snow!’ Which got me wondering…can people actually predict use scent to predict weather? Winter in general is a bit of subdued time for our noses. Odor molecules are much more excitable and easily transportable in warmer weather. Higher temperatures effectively induce more odor molecules into the air, and therefore make more molecules available for detection by our noses. For instance, consider hot coffee versus iced coffee. With a great cup of hot coffee, you can smell dozens of different odor molecules, which blend together for the rich coffee scent that we love. In contrast, only a...

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Scent Storytelling, the Old-Fashioned Way

We are so excited this week about the upcoming Future of Storytelling Festival in NYC, where we're exhibiting our awesome first digital scent film, Alex in Wonderland! It was produced by the super talented Maya Sanbar and works in harmony with Cyrano+Natural Moods Vocabulary. If you're in New York, check it in person on October 7-9th! All this hard work and thinking about storytelling has reminded me of the 'multi-sensorial' children's books from yesteryear: scratch-and-sniffs. When I was growing up, I literally thought that they were the most magical things. But, of course, there's a scientific reason to explain them. Scratch-and-sniff works by microencapsulation. Basically, on a micro scale, the odor-generating chemical is encased by plastic or gelatin spheres. Then, when...

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Nothing beats the scent of fresh coffee in the morning

As we move towards fall, and the days get shorter and crisper, it seems about time for that annual beverage migration: away from the iced coffee, and returning to the traditional morning cup of hot, fresh coffee.  For me, possibly the best part of hot coffee is the smell. Nothing inspires me to roll out of bed and face the day quite as well as the wafting scent of coffee. And now, research shows that there is a scientific reason for this little boost. Researchers in South Korea claim that the scent of coffee reactivates certain genes which are suppressed by sleep-deprivation, thereby waking you up. Furthermore, coffee has been shown to be one of the most complex scents in...

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