Living in NYC, I can say with confidence that the food truck craze is still in full swing. But just when you thought that all of the novel ideas were already taken, the Ghost Food mobile food trailer comes along. Ghost Food differentiates itself by serving up scents in lieu of actual food. This traveling, multisensory installation was created to raise awareness of the endangered state of three common foods: cod, chocolate, and peanut butter. Customers are fitted with a facial device that delivers the scents of these foods into their mouths, simulating the futuristic experience of “dining” on “ghost foods” that may someday cease to exist due to climate change. And the cherry on top (no pun intended), is a 3D-printed mask that lets you smell what you’re supposed to be eating.
We know that scent’s role in taste is well-established. In fact, during our Philadelphia retreat we looked at the powerful effect smell has on the body. But what Ghost Food shows us is that aesthetic experiences can be created that connects our memories of the real food with its engineered substitute. So what could this mean in terms of how we view “food,” in the future? How can we create swell meals that have little or nothing to do with actual food? And how can we leverage our other senses — taste, touch, smell — to rethink and recreate the eating experience?