Smoky coffee or bright orange? Food-inspired scents are making a comeback this year, with both sweet and savoury options. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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If you grew up in the early aughts, you might remember all your friends smelling like baked goods.

It was a time when singers and celebrities were putting out candy-inspired scents. Jessica Simpson’s Dessert Treats, Britney Spears’ Fantasy and other sweet gourmand scents reigned the perfume aisles. It’s also likely why the scent of sugary vanilla perfume still unlocks core memories for you.

Well, you don’t have to linger in your memories and reminisce about food-based scents anymore. Gourmand fragrances are back, and this Y2K trend is becoming more relevant than ever in 2024, thanks to perfume makers adding their own twist on mouth-watering ingredients. The term ‘gourmand’ refers to virtually any fragrance that is delectable, so there are hundreds of options to choose from.

This year, however, you’ll be surprised to learn that the sugar rush is being tamped down by a new roster of food-inspired scents: savoury ones. Whether it’s popcorn, roasted nuts, coffee or pastries, unexpected notes and exotic spices are blending in this year’s gourmand perfumes to create compelling fragrances that you just cannot ignore.

We spoke with Dan Terry, creative director of Oo La Lab, a perfume making fragrance lab based in Dubai and Singapore, who shared why he didn’t find this trend surprising at all, along with his recommendations on which gourmand perfumes work best during different times of the day. Scroll down to read his advice.

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Give our curated list below a sniff – it’s based on top-rated user reviews. Don’t forget to check out other perfumes (some of them are discounted) and subscribe to Amazon Prime to get your new fragrance as early as tomorrow!

1. Best Overall: Kayali Yum Pistachio Gelato Intense Eau de Parfum 

We won’t blame you if you’re a little nuts about this delightful perfume. It’s an explosion of edible notes, featuring pistachio, whipped cream, roasted hazelnut, marshmallow, cotton candy and more. The opening notes are toasty and nutty, and lead to luxurious heart notes of white peony and muguet, followed by a dry down of creamy sandalwood combined with fluffy whipped cream and marshmallows. Fresh, warm and sweet all at once, it has a decidedly sugary appeal, but with a light and soft sillage that is likely to bring in compliments.

2. Best Citrus: Parfums de Marly Oriana Eau de Parfum 

A fruit trifle in a bottle, Parfums de Marly’s Oriana begins with an explosion of fruity notes: mandarin and grapefruit blend with bergamot for a bright, sparkling opening. They then sweep into heart notes of orange blossom, blackcurrants and raspberries, before settling into creamy base notes of marshmallow, ambrette, musk and Chantilly cream. The result is sweet, fruity and airy, with an intense sillage that lasts for a long time. Reviewers also love the deep pink bottle, which captures French aesthetics – appropriate, since it’s where Chantilly cream (the key ingredient in this perfume) was first made for French king Louis XV.

Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh48.25 for 12 months with select banks.

3. Best Coffee: Mason Margiela Replica Coffee Break 

As its name suggests, this fragrance is like your first sip of coffee on a cold winter’s day, or eating pastries in the cosy ambience of a charming café. Composed of top notes of pepper, orange blossom and patchouli, the perfume then features indulgent middle notes of lavender, coffee, milk mousse, and tonka bean, and warm base notes of vanilla, cedar and vetiver. Comforting, with the ability to transport you to your most cherished memories, Replica Coffee Break is the right pick when you need some time to centre yourself on hectic days.

Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh54.92 for 12 months with select banks.

4. Best Floral-Gourmand: Jean Paul Gaultier Divine Eau de Parfum 

Check off two trends in the perfume world right now – gourmand and solar fragrances – with Jean Paul Gaultier’s Divine. This new fragrance, released just last year, strikes a unique balance between floral and gourmand accords, with a salty undertone that runs throughout. The feminine scent features notes of black pepper and bergamot, with sugary meringue, musk and jasmine, all tied together with a bouquet of white lilies. It’s fresh, sweet, salty and a little spicy – perfect for summer days.

5. Best Vanilla: Dior Vanilla Diorama 

If you’re willing to splurge on an unforgettable vanilla-based perfume, this is the one to get. Inspired by the decadence of French pastries, Dior’s Vanilla Diorama combines top notes of orange, pink pepper and lemon, with a heart of cacao and cardamom, and then finishes with vanilla, sandalwood and patchouli. Like your favourite orange chocolate dessert, it’s bitter and sweet, with a kick. Reviewers love that it’s not sickly sweet, rather it’s a warm and spicy fragrance that makes it the perfect pick for special occasions.

Bonus: Buy with 0% installments and pay Dh101.67 for 12 months with select banks.

6. Best Tea: Le Monde Gourmand Chai Épicé 

Tea-infused scents have risen to the top of perfume trends this year, and Chai Épicé is one of its best-loved performers. Featuring notes of honeyed violet fig, muguet musk and blonde woods, the scent is inspired by the subtle spiciness of chai lattes that you would enjoy on a cosy night in. While it’s playful and sugary, it features a warmth and depth that you’ll appreciate. Some reviewers apply the fragrance over vanilla body cream to take it to the next level.

7. Best for Travel: Ellis Brooklyn Bee Eau de Parfum Travel Spray 

Warmed with vanilla bean and dripping with honey, Bee is packed with addictive notes. It opens with the herb davana, moves onto primary middle notes of honey, bran and cinnamon, and ends with vanilla bean, sandalwood and cocoa absolute. Do note, this sweet and spicy blend is intense – just a spritz is enough to envelop you in a veil of shimmering golden honey-infused fragrance. Reviewers describe it as a hug in a perfume. Made with vegan ingredients, and a travel spray bottle that can be reused or recycled, there’s a lot to love about this clean, sustainable product, besides its delicious scent.

What qualifies as a gourmand fragrance?

Vanilla bean
A whiff of vanilla, roasted hazelnuts or coffee can transport you to your fondest memories - a sensation gourmand perfumes easily achieve. Image Credit: Shutterstock

If your mind immediately goes to vanilla when you think of gourmand fragrances, you’re not wrong.

Terry said: “Gourmand fragrances are historically characterised by sweet, edible notes, such as vanilla, caramel, chocolate, and fruits like berries or citrus. These scents evoke the cozy comfort of a kitchen and the indulgence of desserts. In more recent times, we are seeing the rise of savoury gourmand fragrances, for example caviar.”

These delectable scents are incredibly popular because of the sensorial experience they offer, which goes beyond traditional perfumes, according to our expert. Terry said: “They tap into our olfactory memories, reminding us of happy moments and comfort foods. In a world filled with stress and uncertainty, these fragrances provide a sense of nostalgia and joy that holds a universal appeal.”

The evolution of gourmand fragrances

Naturally then, the memories gourmand fragrances conjure up can involve both sweet and savoury foods.

The latest trend towards delicious salty, spicy or generally unconventional notes, do not come as a surprise to Terry. He said: “People are increasingly seeking unique and unconventional fragrances that stand out. These scents offer a departure from traditional floral or fruity perfumes, allowing individuals to express their creativity and individuality through scent.”

The versatility of gourmand fragrances offer further appeal – they can be worn both in the day and night, depending on the occasion.

Terry said: “They are especially delightful in the evening, creating a warm and inviting aura. As for seasons, they are versatile and can be worn year-round. In summer, opt for lighter, fresher gourmands with citrus or fruity notes. In winter, richer, more decadent gourmands with vanilla or chocolate are perfect for cozying up. Apply these perfumes lightly, focusing on pulse points, and consider layering with unscented lotion for a subtler effect.”

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.