Le Whif - The Future of Chocolate is Calorie-Free
Le Whif is the very first inhalable food source available to the commercial market. Created by Harvard professor David Edwards who pioneered inhalable insulin, Le Whif comes in four flavors: pure chocolate, raspberry chocolate, mint chocolate and coffee. Every whif is virtually calorie-free. A small pack of 8-10 whifs of chocolate contains less than one calorie, and the coffee contains the equivalent of a shot of espresso. The product is already available in France and Japan -- where it has garnered a huge following.
Le Whif comes in a small, lipstick-sized, biodegradable tube and can be purchased in a pack suggesting a smoking alternative. You put the tube in your mouth and inhale, and the taste and feeling of chocolate assaults your taste buds.
We chatted with inventor David Edwards (right) about his invention the Le Whif launch party at Dylan's Candy Bar this week.
Luxist: So, how'd you get the idea for breathable chocolate?
David Edwards: I was having lunch with a friend of mine, who's a French chef, about two and a half years ago, and we were thinking of doing an art project -- I run an art and design center in Paris -- and I was worried about what we would do, trying to think up new ideas for that art exhibit. My background as a scientist has been in developing new kinds of drugs and vaccines that you could breath, so I asked him whether he thought it would be a good idea to breathe food. And he thought that would be an interesting idea.
L: I hear you did breathable insulin before.
DE: I did insulin, a TB vaccine and so forth. So, anyway, I brought the idea to Harvard University and asked the students to think about it, and we took it to that exhibit, and it has just evolved from there.
L: I told a couple of friends that I was coming to this, and they thought smelling chocolate and not eating it sounded like torture. What would you say to them?
DE: Well, you don't smell it, actually, you whif it. It's not something you take through the nose, you put it in your mouth. You breathe it. So, it's not sniffing it, it's whifing it -- with one "f" -- we sort of invented a new word, there. It's neither eating nor breathing, but something in between, and we call that whifing. It's a new way to put food in your mouth without having to touch it or put a fork into it. It's like the next thing after the fork. What's interesting from the chocolate point of view is, all the flavor is 100 percent organic chocolate. It is real chocolate, and it has essentially no calories. It's such a dusting of chocolate that you don't have the calories. So, it's a great snack and it's light, obviously.
DE: Le Whif Coffee, again, has the advantage of it being a small amount. What's interesting is that it actually has a caffeine of a small espresso. So, it tastes really good, but you don't have to be in a coffee house or a restaurant.
L: Are there any chemicals people should be concerned about?
DE: It's actually all-natural material, so in the Le Whif chocolate, it's 100% organic chocolate, and in the raspberry and the mint, the flavor in those cases is completely natural. And in the coffee, it's ... coffee ... also caffeine and sugar. If you whif coffee, it's actually not very good, so we made a composite -- but it's all natural.
L: How do you achieve the zero-calories with an all natural product? Is it powder, tiny pieces?
DE: It is. There's different ways of making powdered chocolate and coffee, but what's really important is the particle size. It needs to be small enough that it gets in the air when you breathe, but it has to be too big to go into your lungs. It's designed so that when you breathe it, it falls in your mouth and doesn't go in your lungs at all.
L: What would happen if it went into your lungs?
DE: Well, nothing, necessarily, but if we were delivering chocolate to the lungs, we'd have a drug product, and we'd need to go through clinical trials and so forth.
We gave the product a try, and though it wasn't as satisfying as actually eating chocolate, it was close. Darn close. The chocolate particles stick in your teeth and dissolve the way chocolate does, giving you the sensation of having just eaten a delicious morsel for a fair few seconds. It's almost hard to believe there are no calories, but it makes sense that the air would help distribute the particles all over your mouth, making the flavor of just a tiny nibble akin to a great big bite.
What's next? Whifable steak dinners? (Hope so.)
Le Whif is available from select retailers including Dylan's Candy Bar in New York and Cardullo's in Boston, as well as online at LeWhif.com. Prices start at $2.50.