KEY POINTS

  • Swiss scientists Irene Chetschik and Karin Chatelain found that poop contributes to the smell of cocoa and chocolate
  • Their chocolate aroma kit also included cinnamon, smoke and potatoes
  • The scientists processed cocoa and analyzed its flavors and scents through various stages of development

A couple of Swiss scientists have found that poo plays a significant role in the aroma of chocolate.

Aroma and sensory researchers Karin Chatelain and Irene Chetschik from Switzerland's Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) Institute of Food and Beverage Innovation have identified the 25 key components that work together to produce the aromas of chocolate and cocoa, which have more than 500 volatile compounds, according to a news release on the university's website.

Among the essential scents identified in the aroma kit the scientists developed were boiled potatoes, cinnamon and even feces.

In their experiment, the researchers processed cocoa (Theobroma cacao) and analyzed its flavors and scents, starting from the harvesting stage up to the roasting and conching stages.

With the use of Gas-Chromatography-Olfactometry (GC-O), Chatelain and Chetschik were able to identify the key substances that make up the unique aromas of cocoa and chocolate.

This method allows researchers to analyze specific characteristics of an odor sample. It mainly involves the use of the human nose as it is more sensitive than instrumental detectors, according to Odour Observatory.

In this process, the GC-O requires a trained panelist to sniff the gas sample and provide information about its odor. The results of the method then led to the creation of the chocolate aroma kit and discovery of the 25 key components.

The findings, compared with existing data from related literature, revealed that several aromas come into play in order to produce the specific smell of cocoa.

“Interestingly, there is not a single compound that smells like cocoa, but rather the interplay of several different chemical compounds that make up the cocoa aroma," said Chetschik in a statement.

"In order to better understand cocoa aroma and to describe it more simply, we have summarized the key components in the aroma kit cocoa."

Chatelain and Chetschik believe that the cocoa aroma kit they were able to develop can be used as a training tool for sensory panels — similar to how wine stewards evaluate wine based on its smell. Each odor included in the kit has a detailed description of its aroma. According to ZHAW, this is an important part of being able to communicate sensory experiences between scientists and panels.

"With the new aroma kit we want to contribute to a better understanding of the sensory quality of cocoa and chocolate and share our fascination for the great variety of cocoa with the public," Chatelain said.

A Box of Delicious Chocolates You can't go wrong with a box of chocolates. Photo: Pixabay