Hot, cool and bubbly
Some consumers are looking for sensory sensations that tickle their taste buds.
Kalsec suggests specific types of capsicum extracts to achieve specific effects. Extracts express pungency differently in different foods. There is the instantaneous perception of heat or bite, which may fade quickly, or there is a pungency that builds slowly to a crescendo and slowly fades.
Hainrihar also agrees that mild products have grown hotter over the past few years, and the popularity of curries, sauces and dips with added heat has increased as people have acquired a taste for pungent foods. Kalsec’s pepper extractives are responsible for Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and other corn-based snacks.
Speaking of Frito-Lay products, “Our dips and sauces haven’t changed heat levels, but we’re shipping more of the medium and hot varieties, replacing mild versions,” observes Richard Metivier, principle scientist at Frito-Lay (www.fritolay.com
), Dallas. “The gourmet sauces we evaluate are almost always hot, at the high end of the heat spectrum. You’ll see more of them.”
Metivier notes that he, too, has changed his preferences—he likes things hotter than he did a few years ago. “We keep running flavor and preference tests in various parts of the country to be sure our preferences (in Texas) aren’t biasing our judgment. But preferences are running toward the hotter, aromatic flavors.”Keeping it cool
On the opposite side of the temperature spectrum are the cooling effects, provided by certain of the polyols, menthol (a derivative of peppermint or made synthetically, menthone) and a few proprietary compounds. By combining these materials, some intense cooling flavors have been produced, and they are reaching new levels of popularity.
One of the early companies into the fray, International Flavors and Fragrances (www.iff.com
), Dayton, N.J., uses some proprietary cooling molecules that are not mint-derived. The product line, called CoolTeK, is based on a better understanding of the measurement of “coldness” in the mouth.
|Sorbitol, mannitol, and maltitol, all polyols, provide the cooling sensation in Dentyne Ice’s new Arctic Chill flavor.|
CoolTek initially was developed for confections in a variety of compounded flavors, such as wild berry and strawberry. Two years ago the flavors were applied to beverages, and now they are expanding into sweet flavors.
“Cooling is not a basic taste such as sweet, salty, sour, bitter or umami, nor is it an aromatic sense,” says Carol Brys, a category manager for IFF. “It is perceived as a chemical sense known as chemesthesis. In sweet applications, it is most commonly used in chewing gum, adding refreshing intensity, especially with mint flavors. In non-mint applications, it adds a fun and unexpected taste sensation along with the expected flavor.”
Cooling fits well into the "extreme" tastes enjoyed by kids, adding an exciting dimension to the taste experience. Cooling is characterized as a “sensate,” a compound that causes sensation in the mouth but is essentially without flavor, and does not interfere with other flavors in a system.
Most of the polyols, including maltitol syrup, sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, isomalt and xylitol, provide a cooling sensation. While they are primarily used for sugar replacement, their cooling effect can be useful, either alone or to support other cooling molecules.
The “coolest” of the polyols, erythritol, provides a distinct cooling sensation; xylitol is not far behind. Both have a negative heat of solution in the range of -40 cal/g. Both erythritol and xylitol cool the mouth and fight the sensation of dry mouth commonly associated with prescription drugs and dental hygiene products.
Erythritol is a naturally occurring four-carbon structure. Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar found in fruits and vegetables and made in small amounts by the human system as a metabolic intermediate. Interestingly, bacteria that cause dental caries usually cannot metabolize polyols. There is evidence that xylitol and possibly erythritol inhibit bacterial action on sugars, making them ideal for dental hygiene products.
Although the major reason for using the polyols is their reduction in calories, there is increasing interest in the cooling sensations, says Marie Kozlowski, polyol sales specialist at Cargill Food & Pharma Specialties (www.cargillfoods.com
), Wayzata, Minn.
Snap, crackle, pop
|Pop Rocks live again as the not-so-secret ingredient in Mott’s Magic Mix-Ins applesauce.|
In the 1950s, John Mitchell, a food scientist for General Foods, patented a process that encapsulated carbon dioxide in a sucrose melt, producing an exploding candy nugget. Pop Rocks were introduced in 1973, packaged in a little envelope that looked like a Kool-Aid package. Kids tore the package open and poured it into their mouths, listening to the snap and crackle and licking up the relatively strong flavors.
Then began a strange urban legend. Rumors circulated that a child who represented a major cereal product had blown up from eating several packages of Pop Rocks. Hotlines were set up to answer parent’s questions, and the FDA found the product harmless.