The multi-sensory trend is here to stay as new and interesting concepts, products and restaurants are introduced to create sensory sensations for consumers. In the last three years, Trendincite examined this exciting topic in various articles: Multi-Sensory Experiences, Multi-Sensorial Products – You Fill Up My Senses, and Multi-Sensory Technology – Sensory Overload. There are a variety of recent, unique and interactive experiences to engage consumers including molecular gastronomy and scented technology.
Let’s Eat: Molecular gastronomy chefs changed the expectations of food and what could and could not be done. They are creating new textures and mouth feels, combining hot and cold sensations, deconstructing food, and changing the presentation of food, making dining an entire sensory experience. Here are a few recent examples of experiential concepts. John Fraser of Dovetail launched the pop-up restaurant What Happens When in NYC in January 2011. The concept was to create “an innovative fine dining experience that changed every 30 days and was supposed to last for 9 months.” Although the restaurant closed in June this year, due to a liquor license issue, every month the restaurant had showcased a new menu, a new interior decor and a new sound installation. Their last theme also known as “movement” was appropriately dubbed “Prohibition.” Another intriguing NYC restaurant is ROMERA, which is based on Neurogastronomy. The restaurant offers an 11-course, prix-fixe tasting menu that is described as “a natural cuisine driven by the importance of the neurosensory perceptions, the taste-memory and the emotions of food.” In Chicago, Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, the men behind Alinea, created Next, which explores world cuisine, serves four menus per year, and sell tickets to dinner seatings. Currently, the restaurant is serving a “Childhood” menu; previous menus included “Tour of Thailand” and “Paris 1906.”
Let’s Drink: Cocktails are as important as food and a new crop of sensory bars are appearing. The Aviary, also by Achatz and Kokonas, adjacent to Next, is “A cocktail bar, redefined.” There is no actual bar, instead there is “a state-of-the-art drink kitchen” and the “chefs+mixologists” combine high-end fresh ingredients with technology “where innovation and tradition are both honored.” Literally next door is iNG (Imagining New Gastronomy), owned by Chef Homaro Cantu from Moto. iNG is the first restaurant to use Miracle Berries to create “flavor tripping” experiences. The restaurant features cocktails that change from one drink to another while you are drinking them. For example, “A gin and tonic becomes a screwdriver, as the lime turns into a different flavor. A hot toddy becomes an alcoholic Arnold Palmer. And a margarita morphs into a tequila sunrise.” Whiskey Tango Foxtrot also known as WTF in Brooklyn is expected to open this month. Using an iPad, customers will select their favorite liquors and their mood and bartenders will create custom drinks based on their input.
Ice Ice Baby: Ice–themed restaurants are on trend. Tundra in Florida is an ice-themed restaurant that features “ice sculptures, ice-globe light fixtures, flowers encased in ice, and food and drink served in and on ice.” Instead of ice cubes, cocktails are served with “chilling spheres.” In the UK, Chin Chin Laboratorists is the first Liquid Nitrogen Ice-Cream Parlour. They use liquid nitrogen to freeze their home-made custom ordered ice-cream. According to a food writer “the ice-cream is astonishingly smooth, almost chewy, with not even the faintest grain of ice.”
Smell This: Restaurants and bars are not enough. The quest for sensorial experiences has translated into multi-media advertisements and sensory products, many through the use of scent technology. To further educate the consumer about fragrance, in October, Firmenich and Sephora collaborated and created Sensorium, a temporary pop-up fragrance experience. Described as “a groundbreaking 4D interactive journey [that] offers a multi-sensory experience through a series of compelling encounters featuring one-of-a-kind scents. The entire experience excites the senses, blows the mind, and leaves you with a newfound appreciation for fragrance.”
Scented Technology: Although it’s an old technology scratch ‘n sniff continues to be used to create sensory sensations. In Style, July’s issue used scratch ‘n sniff technology to smell like “summer” with popcorn, watermelon, grass, suntan lotion, and iced coffee scents. Spain’s Esquire June magazine featured chef Ferran Adria on the cover with scratch ‘n sniff technology that smelled of eucalyptus, pine, and the Mediterranean Sea inspired by the location of his El Bulli restaurant. Jelly Belly, the candy manufacturer, teamed up with ESI Cases and Accessories to create a line of scented smartphone cases that give off the scent of Jelly Belly’s most popular jelly bean flavors – Strawberry Cheesecake, Very Cherry, Blueberry, Licorice, and Berry Blue. Japanese Internet provider NTT Communications introduced the first “mobile fragrance communication” for cell phones “that allows people to send smells via cell phone or e-mail attachments.” The phone is designed with a cartridge, which contains 16 individual scents supplied by Symrise that can be blended to create “60 pre-combined different fragrance impressions.”
Ingest This: Aroma Lid is a new plastic to-go coffee lid cover that’s infused with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee to enhance the drinker’s experience and create sensory sensations. Two unusual ingestible fragrance products are Deo Perfume Candy and Swallowable Parfum. American ingredients company Beneo and Bulgarian candy company Alpi created Deo Perfume Candy with Geraniol. When ingested it diffuses a rose scent while Swallowable Parfum by Lucy McRae and Sheref Mansy is “a digestible scented capsule [that] once absorbed, enables the skin to become a platform, an atomizer and the human skin emits a genetically unique scent about who we are, and how we perform our identities.”
As the connection between fragrance and flavor continues to overlap, exciting, new products and multi-sensory experiences will continue to launch to capture the consumer’s attention.
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