Elena Vosnaki, author and senior editor at Fragrantica.com and founder of Perfumeshrine.com, says that gourmands have currently taken over the market, alongside fragrances with Middle-Eastern ingredients, such as oudh (though she says that’s more popular in niche fragrances). “For the designer and mainstream segments, gourmands are reigning right now,” says Vosnaki, and she has a few theories about why. “There are several factors contributing to that: the pandemic, which made us all seek solace and comfort, the war in Europe which created a throwback to tried and tested solutions for the market, plus the companies that have been steadily producing and launching gourmand fragrances for the past 10–15 years,” she explains.
Perfumer Marissa Zappas echoes the fact that most commercial perfumes released in the past decade are technically gourmands, even if they aren’t necessarily marketed that way. “In general, perfumes are much, much sweeter than they were 20 years ago,” she says. But even though gourmands are more common, there’s always been a stigma attached to them. Zappas recalls working as a shop girl at Annick Goutal, where women would walk in and loudly announce they ‘hate sweet’ and ‘don’t want anything remotely sweet,’ but walk out of the store with the sweetest perfume they had. “It’s hard for people to ultimately walk away from what they truly want. Strong aversions to sweet perfumes always feel a little misogynist to me for some reason. Also, a lot of cheaper perfumes are sweeter,” she says. “Humans crave sugar, fat, and salt.”
The concept of experiencing desserts in ways in which you can’t actually eat them goes beyond wearing traditional perfumes. Take, for instance, Bath and Body Works, which is famous for its dessert-scented hand soaps, body lotions, and candles as it is for the body mists that many had as their junior-high signature scent. “The gourmand category is an important part of our fragrance portfolio and we are always mining for the next fragrance to satisfy our customers’ sweet tooth,” explains Noelle Marois, Associate Vice President of Product and Fragrance Development at Bath & Body Works. “The food and beverage industries are ever-changing, so we love to look to the flavor trends on menus, festivals, or even local grocery stores for fragrance inspiration to identify the next idea.” For its newest holiday scent, Fa La La Latte, the brand found inspiration from the cookie butter trend, adding hints of espresso and sweet vanilla foam.