One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Happy Talk: Demeter Gingerale

I had a couple friends over yesterday and the talk turned, as it might well when I'm in the room, to scent. Neither of them had any experience with anything except department-store and drugstore scents, not that that's any blot on their characters: you have to be passionate about fragrance to research uncommon scents and hunt them down. So I decided they ought to sample, at the very least, a couple of Demeter scents.

Demeter is something special: a huge library of 200+ scents, each of which smells like one specific thing. A great many of the scents smell like a food or beverage, leading to such (one would think) unwearable, unsellable things as Lobster and Prune alongside straightforward Green Tea, Tangerine, and Gin and Tonic. The world of work is also well represented, with such scents as Leather, Sawdust, Dirt (think warm, freshly-spaded earth), and Funeral Home.

Demeter scents are very light: they're not meant to last more than an hour or two on the skin. I can't really justify buying a whole lot of them at $22-$26 each, but I have a few can't-live-withouts. I knew my guests would get a kick out of Graham Cracker and Gingerale: there's something irresistible about holding a little bottle up to your nose and getting a whiff of something that couldn't possibly be in a little bottle.

Graham Cracker was a hit, with its warm, vanilla-laced bakery notes, but Gingerale was a runaway sensation. One of my guests couldn't stop laughing with delight. And it is astonishing: it not only captures that light, airy sugared-ginger scent, it actually smells carbonated, as if thousands of tiny bubbles of fizz were flying off your skin. I don't know how this magnificent trick is accomplished, but I've smelled it before: in the seventies, my sisters had a Bonne Bell Lip Smacker that smelled just like 7-Up, and the doomed Cher fragrance Uninhibited in the late 1980s had that same fizzing top note.

Someone actually found an aroma-chemical that exactly duplicates the sensation--because it isn't a smell--of carbonation. Now that's enough to make you laugh with joy.



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