Enough with the logo-bearing T-shirts, baseball caps and mugs; restaurant merchandise is breaking new ground with the emergence of signature scents. Who’s got ‘em? Burger King started the trend with its men’s body spray “Flame,” playing it for a joke. But pastry chef extraordinaire Francois Payard took a more serious approach, releasing a pricey three-item line of chocolate-tinged gourmand perfumes—Inspirations by Payard—just in time for the Christmas shopping season. Right now, he’s demonstrating how food world prominence can be leveraged into a share of the $4.6 billion U.S. flavor and fragrance market. What about you?
Like it or not, most restaurants have a signature odor. Exactly what that scent is depends on what’s cooking in your kitchen. How much of these aromas seep into your dining area or out onto the street often depends on the power or lack thereof of your HVAC system and the blower capacity of your kitchen’s hood vents. In some segments of the food business—bakeries, retail stores that roast and sell nuts, coffee shops and chocolate-driven patisseries—the ambient odor is a key component of the overall marketing plan. One whiff can cause the customer’s mouth to water, and his or her purchasing decision is instantly made. When Starbucks founder Howard Schultz regained operational control of the coffeehouse giant last year, the first thing he did was to get rid of its breakfast sandwiches. Their odor made Starbuck units smell like a fast food joint, not coffee. The off-message odor, Schultz felt, was killing the concept.
However, that same sandwich aroma is on-message for Burger King. In mid-December, the fast food chain debuted a signature men’s body spray, dubbing it “Flame.” Burger King’s positioning statement: “The Whopper sandwich is America’s favorite burger. Flame by BK captures the essence of that love and gives it to you. Behold the scent of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat.” Flame is sold in a 5-milliliter (.17 oz) size and retails for $3.99.
Flame was more about publicity than commerce. Just one store in the country sells it—Ricky’s in New York City—although you can order bottles online from www.firemeetsdesire.com. The site notes that Flame is currently back-ordered and won’t ship until the end of January. Another disclaimer: Purchases are nonrefundable and there’s a limit of six per order.
So how does it smell? Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMXglHpoUJI for an amusing review of Flame from an online perfume critic.
$3.99 won’t get you much more than a sniff of anything from the Inspiration by Payard fragrance line. These are serious products. Payard developed them in conjunction with noted perfume designer Calice Becker, creator of many of the world’s leading perfumes, and a team from Swiss flavor and fragrance giant Givaudan, which has a huge food component along with its perfume business. Among Becker’s previous perfume concoctions are J’Adore for Christian Dior, Beyond Paradise for Estee Lauder, Tommy Girl for Tommy Hilfiger and, just last year, Secret Obsession for Calvin Klein
The three-item line she came up with for Payard—sold in 50 milliliter, 1.7 fl. oz spray bottles—includes:
- Lychee Mousse, a white chocolate scent mixed with Lychee Meringue, Crushed Raspberry and Turkish Rosewater ($42)
- Pistachio Ganache, a milk-chocolate base blended with Pistachio Nougat, Lavender Honey and Egyptian Jasmine ($45)
- Bergamot Truffle, which finds Dark Chocolate infused with Calabrian Bergamot, Orange and Tahitian Vanilla. ($48)
Are they worth it? The RH e-newsletter staff was initially skeptical of chocolate-based perfumes, but our panel of on-site testers went head over heels for the Bergamot Truffle and Pistachio Ganache. It’s high-end perfume, with packaging to match, and would indeed make a good gift for a chocolate lover or other foodie acquaintance.
Payard sells his perfumes at his headquarters in New York City, located in the heart of Manhattan’s high-rent district: Lexington Ave. on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. You can also buy them online at www.payard.com.
How can you get in on the action? If Calice Becker and the perfume whizzes at Givaudan are beyond your budget, maybe you could hook up with cutting-edge perfumer Christopher Brosius, who’s located in Brooklyn, NY. Among his many creations are a food line of fragrances that evoke roast beef, bruschetta, pesto, rice, a California roll, cucumber sandwiches, French bread and tortilla chips. He conjures up custom perfumes, too, but be sure to check out his website (www.cbihateperfume.com) to see what’s involved.We don’t know how much money you’ll make if you come up with a signature perfume for your restaurant. But we’re pretty sure that, like Burger King, the publicity value alone would make the endeavor pay off.