I’ll admit it: I love candy. I especially love candy from other countries or candy made with non-standard (in the US, anyway) ingredients. While visiting my brother and sister this past weekend for her college graduation, Jess and I slipped away to the mall and checked out the candy store. Among the many candies from around the world they had the most intriguing item. Called “Le Whif,” it was a tube of chocolate powder that you were supposed to “whif” into your mouth. Each tube was said to hold 8 “whifs,” claimed to taste like chocolate, and was mostly organic. You know I had to purchase it. The flavors I had to choose from were “Chocolate,” “Chocolate Raspberry,” “Chocolate Mint (the only artificially flavored one),” and “Coffee.” I decided to buy a variety pack, which contained one stick of each flavor, except coffee.
As you can see, the box closely resembles a cigarette box with three tubes inside that resemble plastic cigars. The instructions on the box (and included inside) are very simple: Open, Whif, Close. Before trying this, I decided to go look on their website to find out more information and amazingly it seems that this little stick is a bit more technical than it seems:
“Le Whif is a new delicious approach to eating and breathing. With Le Whif, we inhale food, like chocolate, into our mouths and taste it, without chewing, an experience of flavor without a single calorie.
Invented by Harvard Professor David Edwards, in collaboration with students, designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs working in Edwards’ ArtScience Labs centered around Le Laboratoire, in Paris, Le Whif contains hundreds of milligrams of tiny food particles.
When you place Le Whif between your lips, and breathe in gently, the particle are picked up by the air stream, enter your mouth, and fall onto your tongue. You puff, as if to breathe, and suddenly you have an experience of flavor.
Le Whif uses particle engineering to form natural food substances, like chocolate, in particle sizes that are small enough to become airborne though too large to enter the lungs. The design, which builds on decades of aerosol science work by David Edwards and his colleagues, directs food particles to the mouth following the air that accompanies a natural inhalation.”
Nothing like particle engineering to make one’s mouth water, eh? The cool thing is that this whole idea started as a science experiment when it came to vaccines as can be seen here:
The idea was to create a new way to inhale drugs and vaccines. The article appeared in the Journal Science at a propitious time. Concerns of eliminating needles for diabetic patients drove scientists to consider inhaling insulin. This paper showed how to do it simply and led to the creation of David’s first company, AIR (see Idea 4). For more check this http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9188534
Stemming from that, they got the idea to move onto food:
The idea was to breathe food, starting with chocolate. This idea came to David while having lunch at Thierry Marx’s restaurant near Bordeaux. Later several Harvard students contributed to the idea, including Jonathan Kamler, and leaders of the Laboratoire incubator, LaboGroup, including Jose Sanchez and Tom Hadfield.
And it looks like the future may be “Le Whaf,” as you can see:
The idea was to create a new way of eating by breathing liquid droplets. If whiffing was breathing dry particles, whaffing would be breathing wet particles. David conceived this on the basis of work done at his company Pulmatrix (Idea 7) and later it was designed by French culinary designer Marc Bretillot.
How cool is all of that? Anywho, after dinner on my last night there, I gathered Jess and my siblings together for what would end up being a very interesting dessert. I handed out the sticks and we “whiffed.” Shockingly, it tasted good… and chocolaty. The flavor came through very well and weirdly gave the effect on your tongue that you had just eaten something. We also learned a valuable lesson: Don’t inhale. Seriously, just pretend you’re Bill Clinton when you use these or you’ll end up hacking up a lung. How do I know this? Well, my brother has been known to smoke the occasional cigar and habit caused him to go ahead and inhale. He described the chain of events like this:
- This is kind of weird, I don’t get anything.
- Wait, I think I taste chocolate!
- This is pretty good!
- Wait a minute, I’m inhaling this…
- It’s in my lungs… it’s in my lungs!!
- <hacking for the next hour>
Yes, I believe we may have given my brother Chocolatier’s Lung… not a good thing. This was snapped seconds before the hacking started:
I know the website mentions inhaling and that the particles won’t enter your lungs, and that might be, but on the safe side, you may want to avoid doing that. Other than that mishap, we all really enjoyed the product… I’d have to say I enjoyed the plain chocolate the best (we tried each of them), but all were good. I wish there was a way to have made the mint non-artificial so they could have been able to throw on an “all-natural” label, but two outta three ain’t bad. Next time I’m there I’ll have try the coffee flavor as well.
So, have you “whiffed” your food? What is your favorite non-traditional candy?