MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From something that could leave a bitter aftertaste, we turn now to something sweet - well, technically sweet. Im talking about decadent, sensual, blissful, even addictive chocolate. But Im not talking about eating it.
Andrea Shea of member station WBUR in Boston reports on chocolate you can inhale. Thanks to a new invention called, Le Whif.
ANDREA SHEA: Sounds wacky doesnt it - like something Willy Wonka would have dreamed up. He had the Scrumdidlyumptious bar, lickable wallpaper and that river that ran through his factory.
(Soundbite of movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)
Mr. GENE WILDER (Actor): (As Willy Wonka) Its chocolate.
Ms. JULIE DAWN COLE (Actor): (As Veruca Salt) Thats chocolate?
Mr. PETER OSTRUM (Actor): (As Charlie Bucket) Thats chocolate.
Ms. DENISE NICKERSON (Actor): (As Violet Beauregarde): A chocolate river.
Mr. JACK ALBERTSON (Actor): (As Grandpa Joe) Thats the most fantastic thing Ive ever seen.
SHEA: Well, move over Willy Wonka, meet Harvard University Professor David Edwards, the not-so-mad, biomedical scientist behind Le Whif.
Professor DAVID EDWARDS (Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Harvard; Inventor, Le Whif): We have created chocolate in a new form.
SHEA: Its airborne.
Prof. EDWARDS: We've all wanted to do this since we were little kids. You can actually breadth chocolate and have it land in your mouth and not in your lungs.
SHEA: Edwards knows lungs well. He usually works on designing inhalers that deliver medicine. But, last year, he and his lab students decided it would be fun to invent breathable chocolate. They broke it down into particles that float. But does Le Whif satisfy?
To find out, Professor Edwards agree to meet me at Cardullos Gourmet Shoppe in Harvard Square where they have an obscene selection of chocolate.
(Soundbite of wrapper)
SHEA: Edwards busts out his little box of Le Whif. It comes in tubes. They look like lipstick or shotgun shells or some other kind of illicit paraphernalia.
Prof. EDWARDS: If youre really experienced with Le Whif you can actually do it with one hand. So you open it up, put it in your mouth, and you breathe in. And you get a nice flavor. You can close it when youre done, and then later on you can open up again and you can whiff again. Theres about eight or 10 puffs per Whif.
SHEA: So thats how Le Whif works. But how about the taste. Store co-owner Francis Cardullo is a major chocolate junkie and the perfect guinea pig to taste test the invention.
Mr. FRANCIS CARDULLO (Owner, Cardullos Gourmet Shoppe): Hmm. Thats a nice light whiff of chocolate. Its kind of fun. You get the full flavor of the chocolate. Is there a little sugar in there as well?
Prof. EDWARDS: Its pure.
Mr. CARDULLO: Pure chocolate, wow.
SHEA: Cardullo is so wowed he says he wants to add Le Whif to his shops extensive chocolate selection.
Mr. CARDULLO: Its different. One doesnt replace the other. I think its a complement to chocolate.
SHEA: And thats the point, according to Professor Edwards. Although he admits hes even had to defend Le Whif on a few occasions.
Prof. EDWARDS: All I want to say is that this is not against chocolate any more than eating bars of chocolate means I dont eat a chocolate milkshake. So, this is just a new way of experiencing chocolate and its sort of an addendum to how we normally eat chocolate.
SHEA: Le Whif is something of a sensation in Paris where its currently sold in stores. For now, Americans can sniff it out online. A box of three tubes costs about eight bucks. The breathable confection launches on Harvards campus in a few weeks and also in New York City. Even better news for serious chocoholics, Le Whif is virtually calorie-free. Imagine that.
For NPR News, Im Andrea Shea.
BLOCK: You can learn more about Le Whif on our blog thats npr.org/alltech.
(Soundbite of film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)
(Soundbite of song, "Pure Imagination")
Mr. WILDER (Actor): (As Willy Wonka) (Singing) Come with me and youll be in a world of pure imagination. Take a look, and youll see into your imagination.
BLOCK: This is NPR.