In the footsteps of Van Leeuwen’s ultra-viral Kraft Macaroni & Cheese ice cream, other brands are stepping into very appealing flavours. There’s Nathan’s hot dog ice cream, topped with the famous caramelized bits of meat (yum?) that crash like crunchy bacon between the molars. And I will never understand why the French turned their respectable tomato sauce into a foul lollipop. I know none of these cliched products are really meant to become household staples. However, when the beloved Malt and Straw store in Portland, Oregon announced the release of “Cooking Fragrance,” I simply had to give it a try.
Edible fragrances are designed to enhance the eating experience by imparting the scent of odorless ice cream. In other words: Salt and Straw hopes you’ll spray this fragrance on me your ice cream. The morning the flasks arrived at my doorstep, I spent a good amount of time sprinkling citrus, floral, and cocoa scents onto the various spoons of salt and straws I was already harboring in my freezer. How do they taste? Not much, really. But flavor isn’t really the point of this weird ice cream stunt, or any of the other absurd scoops currently flooding the market.
You really don’t expect brands to adopt new products like this in your regular cooking arsenal, says Sarah Masoni, an award-winning dairy governor and ice cream innovator who works with food companies to develop new products at Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. . Exotic ice cream flavors are usually produced in a limited time and are meant to entice enthusiastic door-to-door customers, she says, “because at the same time they’ll be buying their favorite scoops.” In America, this is good chocolate, cake, cream and vanilla.
Sprinkling $65 Salt and Straw perfumes per bottle on ice cream wasn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t necessary. When I was a kid, my rationale for not eating wilted spinach was that it tasted like wet socks. These perfumes are similarly bewildering. The citrus scent paired with a creamy scoop of olive oil made the inside of my nose smell lightly of lemon. The floral fragrance with coconut sherbet gave off sunscreen vibes. And grated cocoa on salted caramel ice cream tastes like a shot of Baileys Irish Cream. As soon as he ate the scented toppings, the ice cream tasted like ice cream; An ephemeral sensation I wondered if those scented bites really happened. This experience made me want to buy more of the exceptional Salt and Straw Ice Cream. So I think, from Masoni’s point of view, the marketing worked.
Ice cream isn’t the only food category losing its marbled bits in the name of sales: Taco Bell recently launched a tostada stuffed with its massive Cheez-It (okay, I want that); Famous cereal brands make breakfast-scented candles; Oscar Mayer recently created a really disturbing bologna face mask that no one specifically enjoyed. But of all the branded weird stuff out there, it seems like ice cream is the most likely to fall prey to food marketers. It’s really an accessible food group, and Masoni says it contains three ingredients that humans feast on: cream, sugar, and a touch of salt. Ice cream lovers can also be compared to hot sauce heads in that they almost always compete hard to try new flavours.
But in my experience, taking up these experiences in food science is like visiting a wax museum. Something you only need to do once – that’s if it ever happens. Macaroni and cheese tastes infinitely better than the ice cream version, which resembles a cold lump of sugar from Bachelorette Kraft. Masoni agrees: “It really is stupid.” I’d rather eat my body weight in hot dogs like Joey Chestnut than the dairy-based roundup. And Salt and Straw fragrances have moved into my cosmetics closet, which I sprinkle on my real persona and not my delicious ice cream. Today I smell like a salty chocolate shake.