It's a truism that flavor is as much smell as it is taste. Lose your ability to smell (anosmia) and out the window goes your ability to truly enjoy anything you ingest or imbibe. But how many people love smell so much — particularly the scent of perfume — that they'd like to consume it?
One hand is being raised high over here — and I know I'm not alone. People all over the world flavor food with perfumey ingredients (violet, rose, saffron, etc.), and there are loads of candies, syrups, and foods (mostly non-American) that are scented with things we normally consider for perfume only.
Tooling around Google one day, I discovered one such product I almost couldn't believe existed: musk-flavored Lifesavers. That's right — the Lifesavers you know and love (if you're American) through run-of-the-mill flavors such as strawberry, lemon, orange (and if you ever purchased "exotic" Lifesavers), maybe pineapple or coconut.
Made for the Australian and New Zealand markets, Musk Lifesavers (from Nestle) have a friend: Musk Sticks (from Black and Gold), like Twizzlers or Red Vines, only powdery — and flavored with musk.
I had to try these things, and thanks to a loyal reader from Down Under, Anne-Marie, I received my fragrant package in the mail. (The scent of these "musk lollies" was apparent before I even opened the box.)
If you've ever had Choward's Violet candies, Musk Lifesavers are similar, with the scent of cosmetic powder, rose, violet...and that unmistakable musky drydown you get from clean musk perfumes. Only you're tasting it. Weird, not for everyone, but I loved them!
They were a little chalky, and I think that they'd benefit from being in a smoother Jolly Rancher-type candy, but wow. MUSKY! My favorite part, almost, was that the flavor of musk stayed in my mouth for at least half an hour, perfuming my breath and making me feel as decadent as the dandy protagonist in Against Nature (Au Rebours). If you ever want to experience musk's drydown in your mouth, I've got the candy for you!
The Musk Sticks weren't as intense or subtle to me, but they were musky, and did have a nice chewy texture. An awesome commenter on Candyblog suggested using them to infuse vodka! Forget Appletinis, I want a Musk-a-tini! (Perhaps this bartender should have used some Musk Sticks in his Chanel No. 5 cocktail?)
Although eating musk candies might seem like the hifalutin shenanigans of a stunt-eating foodie, I discovered that for many Australians, musk lollies are what they ate as kids. It's as normal to them as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or Pop Rocks to Americans. Before you go and conclude, as one commenter did on a forum, that all Australian food seems based "on a dare" (and I'm sure he's referring to Marmite and Vegemite, two condiments I also love!), Americans actually used to chew Beechie's Musk Gum. Who knows why it fell out of favor, or why Beechies Musk Gum is now only available in South Africa?
I'm still trying to find out what kind of (synthentic) musk flavors these candies, and what else we might be consuming that has musk in it. As Helg from Perfume Shrine reminds us in a great post on musk and civet (!) in food, synthetic musk is in almost everything we use, from laundry detergent to toothpaste to candy to who knows what else. (I love her historical anecdote that lore has it that long ago, concubines in China were fed musk-flavored foods so that their perspiration would be an aphrodisiac to their lovers. Sexay!)
Anyway, this is just the first in my "Perfume You Can Eat!" series. I'll intersperse reviews of perfumed food in between my usual reviews of vintage perfume. Be prepared for a review of lavender syrup; rose, sassasfras, and anise candies; civet coffee (Kopi Luwak); and lord knows what else. I'm on a roll!
Today, it just happens to be a musk-flavored roll.