Well, this is weird: Japanese company Scentee has developed an iPhone add-on that broadcasts scents like grilled short ribs, warm cinnamon rolls, and ground coffee. Scentee is a little round object that plugs into the earphone jack of your smartphone and sprays out scents from flavor capsules in titrated doses, kind of like a Glade air freshener, but for food. If the company is real -- and it seems to be, it has a listing on Amazon and NPR conducted an interview with the owner -- soon the device will be available for purchase in the U.S.
The bizarre, satirical (?) promo video touts the device's usefulness for everyone from starving students to dieters, implying you can subsist on white rice and lettuce but trick your brain by smelling sizzling short rib and beef tongue. It's been proven that scent and flavor are linked, but it's hard to believe that a few puffs of short rib essence would make white rice a satisfying replacement. (Wouldn't the smell of meat just make you crave it more, much in the way that the smell of Cinnabon in the mall air makes you want a mediocre, sugary cinnamon roll with surprising intensity?)
Most sinister is the intimation that the company is working with brands to develop advertisements that have a scent component. We're already nearly powerless in the face of Red Lobster commercials; here's praying that they don't come accompanied by the smell of melted butter and hot biscuits in the future.