Without the sparkle, pop and fizz of carbonation, a “flat” soda pop does not quite pull the same attraction. The delightful feeling in the nose and on the tongue after a swig of soda is a trigeminal sensation. It is the response that happens when aromas and volatile compounds perceived in the olfactory receptors activate the trigeminal nerve network from the nose, mouth and face to the brain.

“Some of the nerves in the system are chemically sensitive and transmit sensations such as the burning heat of hot peppers, pungency of garlic, refreshing coolness of mint and the tingly sensation of carbonation,” says Phil Parisi, vice president and technical director at David Michael & Co., a flavor company specializing in beverage, food and confectionery flavors.

The brain responds to sensates (flavors that stimulate the tongue or palate) with characteristic defense reflex responses: sneezing, sweating, tearing, excessive or increased salivation, puckering and other involuntary facial muscle reflexes.

David Michael's (DM) Sensation Flavors deliver the effects of heating, cooling, astringency, tingling, lubricity, mouthfeel and the “burn” associated with alcohol.

“Sensation flavors are already popular in Asia, but acceptance has been building more slowly in the U.S. over the past few years,” says Parisi. “Many people believe that the moderate sequential irritation of [trigeminal sensations] adds to the pleasure of food.” For example, many wine tasters would say that astringency is an important component of wine flavor.

“The addition of a sensation flavor will provide the alcohol 'burn' or warming sensation that would be missing in a non-alcoholic flavor,” adds Parisi, noting David Michael's Adults Only Gin and Tonic Non-alcoholic Beverage as an example.

Some of the specific compounds or ingredients that cause heating are capsaicin from chili peppers, ginger and cinnamyl aldehyde, which is found in cinnamon. Cooling sensations can be created with the addition of menthol, isomenthone, menthone and L-menthyl lactate, which are components of peppermint, corn mint and spearmint.

Additionally, there are many solvents such as alcohol and propylene glycol that are used in flavor development. They contribute heating and cooling sensations.

“David Michael's Blackcurrant with Fresh Flavor Cool Sensation is an example of a flavor that makes a product more refreshing, invigorating and drinkable,” says George Ennis, vice president and chief flavor chemist. “Products with cooling effects can be marketed to be eaten with spicy foods, to help athletes cool down after exercise or for extra cooling/refreshment during the hot summer months.”

DM sensation flavors can be used in a variety of applications including beverages, confections, dairy applications, stick novelties, snacks, entrées and pharmaceuticals.

Heating and cooling ingredients need to be evaluated in finished applications, because different mediums will release the sensate characteristics at different times during the eating experience. “It is not simply a matter of standardization, since there is a different acuity, or perceived physiological response, from individual to individual,” remarks Ennis.

“For example, David Michael's Heating Sensation Flavors are great for 'extreme' beverages that are marketed to teens and the Generation Y crowd,” says Ennis. “This demographic can get bored easily with everyday beverages, but adding a sensation is new and different.”

To assure viability for the application at hand, David Michael's flavor chemists will work closely with clients in providing a Sensation Flavor that exactly matches the specific flavor requirements.

DM sensation flavors are sold as liquids, water- and oil-soluble emulsions, powders and encapsulates.

For more information:
David Michael & Co., Philadelphia
Erin Kate O'Donnell • 1-800-DM-FLAVORS • eodonnell@dmflavors.com www.dmflavors.com