Sensory researchers recently isolated the aromatic compounds that distinguish soft baked pretzels from regular bread. Among the compounds that give soft pretzels their compelling aroma were compounds that smell like:
A. Tea and baked apples
B. Vanilla and mocha
C. Sweat and butter
D. Animal fur and damp earth
In a study recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry—the whiffs of sweat and butter were among the distinguishing aromas that make soft baked pretzels so crave-inducing. According to Atlas Obscura, the researchers determined that the signature smell of pretzels comes from the brown outer crust (not the inside of the pretzel). They then peeled soft pretzel skins, crushed them to a fine powder, and created an extract from the ground pretzels. Using a process called aroma extract dilution analysis, they identified specific odorous compounds in the extract. These included aromas that were sweaty, buttery, malty, mushroom-like, carrot-like, cooked potato-like, caramel-like and cheesy. People laugh when I tell them that pinot noir has the wonderful smell of a sweaty man who just ran one mile. But sweatiness can be attractive. Now I can’t wait to try pretzels with pinot noir.