Why You Should Add A Gourmand Scent To Your Summer Fragrance Repertoire

Aside from those who stay faithful to their signature scents, there are plenty of perfume aficionados who treat fragrance like fashion. For them, a change in season also signals a change in their scent choices. This explains the cyclical nature of the popularity of certain perfumes, such as the current resurgence of vanilla fragrances that coincides with the Gen Zers' ongoing fascination with the late '90s and early aughts trends. While this year's approach to vanilla scents is less in-your-face and a little more nuanced compared to those of previous decades, it also heralds the return of other gourmand fragrances to the scene.

In a nutshell, a gourmand perfume smells good enough to eat — like an "olfactory dessert," as Luxury Scent Box put it. Its main draw is its use of edible notes, which are then balanced with non-edible ones to create an indulgent, mouth-watering scent. Depending on the notes used, a gourmand fragrance can smell sweet (chocolate, honey, caramel, candy, marshmallow, the aforementioned vanilla), savory (coffee, nuts, spices), heady (liqueur), or a combination of all three. Glasshouse Fragrances also notes that these perfumes usually feature citrusy and fruity notes too.

Along with the recent dominance of barely-there skin scents, gourmand fragrances are having a renaissance — and the shift hints at a collective desire for a return to simpler, more delectable times.

Finding comfort in scents

Gourmand perfumes' enduring appeal is intricately linked to the power of scent to elicit feelings and memories. Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, Venkatesh Murthy, explained to The Harvard Gazette that "olfactory signals very quickly get to the limbic system," the part of our brain that oversees our emotional responses and formation of memories.

In addition, smelling our food or drink influences our perception of its flavor. According to Ask The Scientists, food molecules make their way to our nasal cavities as we chew, triggering a retro-nasal olfaction that combines with the information registered by our tongue's taste receptors. Since our brains process these simultaneously, both scent and taste become closely associated with each other and create our impressions of a dish's or a beverage's flavor. Tie that in with memory, and we understand how smells evoke past dining experiences. 

"Gourmand is all about this idea of positive nostalgia, getting back to the time of treats and sweets when you were a little child, but it's also a more grown-up type of nostalgia, because gourmand is generally all about comfort," Arnaud Guggenbuhl, head of global marketing insight and image fine fragrance at Givaudan told The Zoe Report. With people looking to overcome the physical and mental toll of anxiety brought on by the pandemic and other socio-political issues, these fragrances offer a brief escape to more innocent times when having a tasty treat was enough to make us feel better.

From vanilla to fruits and beyond

Even if you are not into following perfume trends, it's worth adding a gourmand scent to your summer fragrance collection. Unlike the Y2K era's saccharine aromas, this season's food-based perfumes are more refined, layering sugary essences with warmth and spice for a more complex, textured profile.

The innovative approach behind the development of the subtly intriguing skin scents remains, though the focus is now on expanding the possibilities of edible notes. According to Bee Shapiro, founder of the fragrance line Ellis Brooklyn, perfumers are currently experimenting with fruits. Her company, for example, is following the success of its Vanilla Milk perfume by working with pears, peaches, and cherries for fragrances that would make the wearer feel as if they were actually biting into a fruit. She told The Zoe Report, "With COVID, we were really looking for comfort in so many different ways. There was this need and want just to feel cozy and delicious and in the kitchen and taken care of." Kayali founder Mona Kattan agrees with this sentiment, telling Byrdie, "When people would be like, 'When was your happiest moment?' It's always around food, and that's why I think the gourmand fragrance family is on fire. People want that nostalgia." 

With nostalgia a personal experience, it's great that today's gourmand perfumes are more nuanced. Whether sweet, spicy, or zesty, whether it's a full hit or just a hint, you can smell delicious and feel good just the way you want to.