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Sweet and Stinky


What gives chocolate its enticing aroma? It’s not a single scent but a blend of about 30 different compounds— substances made of two or more chemically combined elements. And not all of them smell sweet.

Scientists from the Technical University of Munich in Germany investigated chocolate’s scent using two types of dark chocolate. The researchers analyzed each sample to identify the odor-producing compounds it contained. Some of the compounds smelled nice, like vanilla, flowers, popcorn, or pineapples. Others, though, were surprisingly stinky. They smelled like cabbage, mushrooms, vinegar, smoke, and even sweat.

On their own, none of the compounds smelled exactly like chocolate, says food scientist Michael Granvogl, who co-authored the study. But when they waft together in the air, they combine into the delicious scent we recognize.

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