About the Exhibition

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This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Infiniti. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

You know the delicious flavors of your favorite foods? It turns out they can be simulated without any foods at all, using ingenious science and technology developed by the flavor industry. Like it or not, you probably eat something every day that has been flavored with their products.

At Flavor: Making It and Faking It, learn what "natural" and "artificial" really mean, discover how vanilla and seaweed inspired the science of flavor simulation, and meet the $25 billion industry whose flavors you experience almost every time you eat.

Exhibition Highlights

The Building Blocks of Flavor

Flavor is a complex experience that starts with chemicals and ends in our brains. Although there is no difference between a flavor chemical taken from a natural source and one made in a lab, some flavors are still more complex than others.

— Learn about how your nose and tongue detect flavor chemicals.
— Understand why lab-made flavors differ from the real thing.

Learning to Fake It: Vanilla and the Birth of the Flavor Industry

Vanilla’s transformation from costly spice to industrially produced commodity led to the birth of the flavor industry.

— Discover the surprising sources of vanilla flavoring.
— Is there a flavor difference between real vanilla and simulated vanilla? You decide.

Umami: Seaweed and the Discovery of a New Taste

MSG manufacturers created a new understanding of deliciousness and became a key part of the growing processed food industry.

— Learn how seaweed unlocked our understanding of the fifth taste: umami.
— Taste umami from a variety of sources and see for yourself whether it enhances flavor.

The Taste Makers: The Art and Science of Flavor Creation

New technologies and a growing knowledge of flavor in the postwar era allowed scientists to further separate flavor from food.

— Create aromas using the one-of-a-kind MOFAD "smell synth."
— Deconstruct strawberry flavoring and put it back together again.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Infiniti. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.


More from MOFAD Lab

Video

Modern Alchemy: Reverse Engineering Flavor

Watch how flavor companies use technology to replicate and reverse engineer naturally occurring flavors

Video

The Journey of Vanilla: From Plant to Extract

How vanilla became the most ubiquitous flavor in the world

Video

Flavor Mechanics: Understanding Olfaction

How does smell work and how does it contribute to flavor?

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