By Franchie Viaud, Staff Writer
If we can send a man to the moon, invent microscopic cameras the size of a pin and use our imaginations to make the seemingly impossible possible, why can’t we make something like a tiny strip of gum taste like a full three-course meal all in itself?
When I brought up the subject to my mother a few years back, inquiring as to why the scientists couldn’t find it in their hearts to make the type of candy from the Willy Wonka movies, she replied (rather sardonically) that scientists had better things to do — like curing blood-borne pathogens and terminal illnesses — than assuaging the sweet-tooth of a 10-year-old. Imagine my entitled disappointment.
Wouldn’t zero-calorie chocolates be a dream come true? Not only has biomedical engineer David Edwards, the real life “Willy Wonka,” managed to make this dream a reality, but he has also accomplished the feat of making chocolate inhalable. More known for his products encased in edible wrappers and a device called the “oPhone,” which can transmit and receive odors, Edwards has opened up one of his labs in Cambridge, Mass. similar to that of his Paris-based testing ground, bringing his exceptional work to us Bostonians in the land of clam chowder and clammy weather.
“Culture labs” like Edwards’ are making appearances all over the world in an attempt to satisfy peoples’ broadening creativities, coaxing their ingenuity into tangible and edible forms. And while there are no golden tickets hidden in chocolate bars to be discovered by a select few, Edwards is opening up his culture lab to the public, giving everyday people the chance to experience the collective efforts of scientists, artists and chefs and perhaps to expand and enhance his inventions, many of which are still a work in progress.
Like other great connoisseurs that preceded him, Edwards did not suddenly and miraculously make his start in the candy-making business. Rather, he helped process aerosol prescription drug delivery systems before selling his company and using the same technology to innovate a new way to deliver chocolate, which came to be known as Le Whif (pronounce it with a quasi-french accent and you’ll realize how clever it is).
Edwards isn’t simply trying to fulfill some Peter Pan Syndrome inclinations (the scientist who just couldn’t grow up), he hopes to cut down on landfill wastes (edible wrappers), create healthier foods more mobile (many of his products don’t need to be refrigerated), and export them to be sold in developing states. He opens the playing field to similar ventures and introduces a new approach to feeding starving nations.