CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Have you ever just wanted to inhale a bunch of chocolate?
Now you can. Introducing a new invention called Le Whif.
Sounds wacky, doesn’t it? Like something Willy Wonka would have dreamed up. Like his Scrumdidlyumptious bar. Lickable wallpaper. Or the river that ran through his factory.
Well, move over Willy Wonka. Meet Harvard Prof. David Edwards, the not-so-mad scientist behind Le Whif.
“We’ve all wanted to do it since we were little kids,” Edwards says. “You can actually breathe chocolate and have it land in your mouth and not in your lungs.”
Edwards knows lungs well. He usually works on designing inhalers for delivering medicine. But he and his students decided it would be fun to create breathable chocolate. They broke it down. Into particles. That float.
But does Le Whif satisfy?
To find out, Edwards agreed to meet me at Cardullo’s gourmet shop in Harvard Square, which features an obscene selection of chocolate.
Edwards busts out his little box of Le Whif. It comes in tubes. The tubes look like lipstick. Or shotgun shells. Or some other kind of paraphernalia.
“If you’re really experienced with the Whif you can actually do it with one hand,” Edwards demonstrates. “So you open it up, put it in your mouth, and you breathe in. And you get a nice flavor, you can close it when you’re done, and then later on you can open it up again and you can Whif again. There’s about eight or 10 puffs per Whif.”
Now, I’m not a chocolate fanatic. I actually liked Le Whif better than the real thing.
But what about a hardcore chocolate junkie?
“It’s different,” says store co-owner Francis Cardullo. “One doesn’t replace the other; I think it’s a complement to chocolate. I would have this in my pocket. I would use this as a quick fix.”
And that’s what David Edwards likes to hear from chocolate loyalists. He admits he has actually had to defend Le Whif on a few occasions.
“This is not against chocolate any more than eating bars of chocolate means I don’t eat a chocolate milkshake,” he says. “This is just a new way of experiencing chocolate, and it’s sort of an addendum to how we normally eat chocolate.”
Le Whif is something of a sensation in Paris, where it’s sold in stores. For now, Americans can sniff it out online, but the product does not launch in stores until March.
Even better news for serious chocoholics: Le Whif is virtually calorie-free.