The Flavorists: Tweaking tastes and creating cravings

Meet the scientists who create flavors that make foods and beverages so tasty that critics say they're addictive

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Safer: Essentially what you do is, you take whatever this smells like--

Ziaogen Yang: Right.

Safer: --and copy it?

Yang: Right. Exactly.

Safer: And then I suppose you could-- if you chose to, you could, quote unquote, "improve on it."

Yang: Yes.

Hassel: Exactly.

Yang: We-- all the time.

The Holy Grail - a flavor so good you can't resist it.

Dawn Streich: In our fruit flavors we're talking about, we want a burst in the beginning. And maybe a finish that doesn't linger too much so that you want more of it.

Hassel: And you don't want a long linger, because you're not going to eat more of it if it lingers.

Safer: Aha. So I see, it's going to be a quick fix. And then--

Hassel: Have more.

Safer: And then have more. But that suggests something else?

Hassel: Exactly.

Safer: Which is called addiction?

Hassel: Exactly.

Safer: You're tryin' to create an addictive taste?

Hassel: That's a good word.

Streich: Or something that they want to go back for again and again.

Food companies know that flavor is what makes repeat customers. So they commission Givaudan to create what they hope will be a mouthwatering taste.

Givaudan may be the biggest multinational you've never heard of. The Swiss company employs almost 9,000 people in 45 countries, providing tastiness to just about every cuisine imaginable.

Safer: There's a lot of secrecy involved in your profession, correct?

Hassel: Our intellectual properties are our formulas. So without that, we have nothing. So there's a lot of secrecy. You really don't want anyone to know.

Michelle Hagen: My world is making things taste good.

Soda pop and chewing gum flavorist Michelle Hagen has helped Givaudan and the food companies make billions with her secret formulas.

Hagen: I create thousands of flavors. So I need somewhere to put them. And I have a lot of flavors in here.