Do Men Like Gourmand Scents?

Gourmand scents, sometimes referred to as “foodie” fragrances, are perfumes that contain edible notes meant to evoke the scent of food, desserts, or sweets. According to perfume blog Yesterday’s Perfume, gourmand fragrances first emerged in the 1990s with scents like Thierry Mugler’s Angel, which combined notes like chocolate, caramel, and honey (Source). Common gourmand notes include vanilla, candy, cake, coconut, berries, and more. Popular gourmand fragrances for women include Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium with notes of coffee and vanilla, Viktor & Rolf Bonbon with orange and caramel, and Lancome La Vie Est Belle with iris and praline.

In recent years, gourmand scents have become increasingly popular. The sweet, playful notes tap into nostalgia and provide a fun fragrance experience. While traditionally considered feminine, gourmand scents are now emerging in fragrances marketed to men as well. This article will explore the rising popularity of gourmand fragrances and examine if men are drawn to these sweet, edible perfume notes.

History of Gourmand Scents

Gourmand scents first rose to prominence in the early 1990s with classics like Angel by Thierry Mugler, which featured sweet notes like praline, chocolate, and honey. As perfume expert Octavian Coifan notes, “Angel is the first scent in the gourmand category” [1]. The increased use of synthetic ingredients in the 1990s enabled perfumers to explore more elaborate gourmand fragrances.

The gourmand category saw rapid growth through the 1990s and 2000s. According to fragrance historian Michelle Krell Kydd, “The niche perfume market was an ideal environment for experimental perfumes with a gourmand theme to thrive” [2]. Popular gourmand releases like Thierry Mugler’s Angel, Jean-Paul Gaultier’s Le Male, and Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men demonstrated the mainstream appeal of food-inspired scents.

Psychology of Scents

There is a deep connection between our sense of smell and memory. Scents are processed in the brain’s limbic system which also handles emotions and memory. Because of this, certain scents can trigger distinct memories and emotions in men (Fashion is Psychology).

Specifically, sweet gourmand scents that remind men of childhood typically evoke feelings of warmth, comfort, and happiness. Scents like vanilla, chocolate, and cinnamon are often associated with mom’s baking or celebratory desserts. Smelling these scents sparks positive memories and may make men feel regressive and youthful again (Psychology Today).

Additionally, gourmand scents that evoke sweet tastes are inherently comforting and inviting. The psychology behind this is that sucrose activates the brain’s reward system. So smelling sweet scents lights up the same reward pathways as actually eating dessert, producing feelings of pleasure and satisfaction (Fashion is Psychology).

Market Trends

The gourmand fragrance market has seen strong growth in recent years, especially among male consumers. According to data from Future Market Insights, the global gourmand fragrance market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.8% from 2023 to 2033, reaching a value of $55 billion by 2033. Men’s fragrances make up over 15% of gourmand fragrance sales.

Top-selling gourmand fragrances for men include Invictus Paco Rabanne, 1 Million Paco Rabanne, and Acqua Di Gio Profumo. These fragrances all feature sweet, edible notes like honey, chocolate, or vanilla. Market research shows men are increasingly drawn to these richer, sweeter scents.

Fragrance brands have responded by targeting men more directly in marketing of gourmand fragrances. Advertising campaigns showcase masculine personalities and imagery while promoting the indulgent scents. This shift has helped drive the popularity of gourmand fragrances among male consumers.

Expert Opinions

several male celebrities enjoy wearing gourmand fragrances, suggesting these sweet scents have mainstream appeal.

According to Jean-Claude Delville, a perfumer with Dior, “Gourmand fragrances have become increasingly popular with men in recent years. Foodie scents can evoke feelings of comfort and indulgence. Many men are drawn to gourmand notes like tonka bean, chocolate, and vanilla.”

Fragrance blogger Sam (GentsScents on YouTube) explained in an interview, “I’ve noticed more guys exploring feminine or sweet fragrances, like gourmands, that they may have avoided in the past. While traditionally seen as feminine, notes like praline, caramel, and berries can be nicely balanced in masculine fragrances.” He cited examples like Dior Homme Intense and Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme as gourmand fragrances marketed to men.

According to master perfumer Carlos Benaïm, “Scent preferences are becoming less dictated by gender. Some men feel confident wearing sweeter, gourmand scents that were previously taboo. Foodie notes can enhance a fragrance’s addictiveness and sillage.” He suggests gourmand fragrances with woods or incense to maintain a masculine edge.

Scientific Research

Several scientific studies have explored how men and women perceive and react to different scents, especially gourmand scents that evoke foods like chocolate, vanilla, and caramel.

Research shows there are some gender differences in olfactory perception and scent preferences. For example, a 2021 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that labeling a scent as “feminine” or “masculine” influenced how people perceived it, but did not change their tactile evaluation of the scent’s texture[1]. Another study in PLOS One examined gender differences in brain activation patterns when smelling food odors like cinnamon, lemon, and coffee. They found distinct activation patterns between men and women, suggesting gender-specific processing of food scents[2].

In terms of food scents, research indicates they can elicit feelings of comfort and security. A 2014 study in the International Journal of Psychological Studies found that when perfume scents were congruent with the perceived gender of the fragrance, they were rated as more attractive and pleasant[3]. This suggests gourmand fragrances may be appealing across genders despite stereotypical associations.

Celebrity Examples

Many male celebrities are known for wearing gourmand fragrances and have spoken openly about their fondness for these sweet, food-inspired scents. According to Pinterest, actor Hugh Jackman is a fan of the gourmand scent Pure Malt by Thierry Mugler, describing it as a “gentleman’s cologne” with notes of malt, coffee, and chocolate. Rapper Kanye West reportedly loves the sweet tobacco scent Back to Black by By Kilian, saying “it reminds me of childhood memories and happier times.”

Actor Ryan Reynolds has been spotted wearing the creamy vanilla scent Jazz Club by Maison Margiela, telling Esquire “there’s something warm and inviting about it.” And according to Harper’s Bazaar UK, David Beckham enjoys wearing Intimately Beckham, which contains gourmand notes like vanilla, tonka bean, and sandalwood. Clearly, these male celebs appreciate the nostalgic, comforting effect of gourmand fragrances.

Gourmand Note Pairings

Some of the most popular gourmand notes that give men’s fragrances their sweet, edible accords include vanilla, cocoa, caramel, honey, maple syrup, and chocolate. These rich, sugary notes form the backbone of a gourmand fragrance.

However, gourmand fragrances shine when paired with complementary notes that add allure and prevent the scent from becoming too overly sweet or cloying. Some notes that beautifully accent gourmand scents for men include:

  • Fresh citrus like bergamot, lemon, and mandarin orange to brighten the scent.
  • Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to add warmth.
  • Resins like amber, benzoin, and labdanum to deepen the fragrance.
  • Florals like jasmine, violet, and iris to soften and feminize.
  • Woody notes like cedar, sandalwood, and vetiver to ground the sweetness.

These secondary notes intermingle with the gourmand core to create complex, mouthwatering fragrances with depth and sensuality. The sweet gourmand aspect satisfies cravings for edible smells while the accompanying notes provide alluring contrast.

Tips for Wearing

When wearing gourmand fragrances, it’s important to avoid excessive sweetness. Here are some best practices for applying and wearing these scents:

Go easy on the trigger. Gourmand fragrances are very potent, so only spray once or twice. Applying too much can make the scent cloying.

Focus application on pulse points. The warmth of areas like the neck, wrists, and chest helps the notes bloom gently. Avoid rubbing wrists together to prevent an overwhelming initial blast.

Layer with non-gourmand scents. Pairing gourmand fragrances with fresh citrus or herbal scents can brighten the sweetness. Apply the gourmand on pulse points and the fresh scent on clothing.

Save for cold weather. Gourmands tend to work better in cooler weather when their sweet notes don’t become too heavy. The coziness of vanilla and tonka bean shines on crisp fall and winter days.

Watch your diet. Consuming sweets while wearing a sugary fragrance can amplify the effect too much. Keep food choices fresh and light when sporting gourmands.

Consider occasion. Gourmands may not be best for the office or formal events. Save them for casual social gatherings where you want a playful, appealing scent.


After reviewing the historical context, psychological associations, market trends, expert opinions, scientific research, celebrity examples, note pairings, and tips for wearing gourmand fragrances, the evidence clearly shows that many men do enjoy gourmand scents. Although they may not represent the majority, there is a significant male demographic that finds foodie, sweet, and edible notes not only pleasant but sexy and alluring.

For male readers interested in exploring gourmand fragrances, start by sampling some popular, versatile options like Tonka Imperiale by Guerlain, Spicebomb Extreme by Viktor & Rolf, and Millesime Imperial by Creed. Begin with just a spritz or two and allow the notes to develop on your skin over time. You may be surprised by how appealing and seductive the edible accords can be in the right composition. Approach with an open mind and remember that you don’t have to give up your traditionally masculine scents to enjoy a gourmand now and then. Fragrance preferences are deeply personal, so find what brings you joy.

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