Thursday, January 28, 2021

Aquolina Pink Sugar: fragrance review

The infamous cotton candy note (candyfloss, for those in the UK) lies at the heart of Aquolina's Pink Sugar (2003), and the fragrance made the chord mega-popular. It was cheerful and chirpingly cheap. It was bound to set the world ablaze.

The story of ethyl maltol goes back several decades actually. As chemist M.Yodov writes, "In 1861, a specific compound was extracted from larch bark (back then it was called laxirinic acid), and in 1894 it was identified by a group of Munich chemists, they named it maltol. Later it was confirmed that maltol plays a significant role in the aroma of fresh bread, coffee, roasted chicory, and some conifers. In its pure form, maltol has a caramel smell with fruity nuances of jam. At the beginning of the 1940s, maltol was produced on an industrial scale, but it was the flavor industry that first took an interest in the compound, since it turned out to be very useful in the reconstruction of a variety of flavors – from soups and ketchup (50-100 parts per million) to all kinds of confectionery (up to 3300 ppm).

Maltol has been produced under different trade marks, like for example Corps Praline. In 1962, Pfizer trademarked the name Veltol. Maltol was then obtained from kojic acid,  [...] In the late 60s, Pfizer introduced a new product, Veltol Plus. Replacing the methyl substituent with ethyl in the maltol molecule (by replacing formaldehyde with acetaldehyde during one of its synthesis steps), they reached a substance that smelled 4-6 times more intense – the same cotton candy, but with a more pronounced fruity strawberry aspect and less burnt".

The fragrant impression in Pink Sugar is an intense and persistent throughout strawberry caramel chord, licorice, and there’s another note they might be going for...toasted marshmallow? Whatever. It's the scent of a yummy confection, perfect for an afternoon at the Ferris wheel with 14-year-olds, to make you feel like a 14 year old yourself. If you're so inclined, that is.


  1. Anonymous08:48

    I'm not a big fan of Pink Sugar but I very much like Al-Rehab's Soft to which it's compared (though soft has a lemon tone rather than strawberry). I also enjoy Lush's Snow Fairy which is a bit strawberry-ish. I perceive these as even LESS sophisticated than Pink Sugar - maybe because there is no burnt note in these! I would very much like to try Montale's Sweet Flowers as it also has candy floss as a note :D Having reached the grand old age of 42 I feel free to smell like a 4 year-old if I so wish!

    1. Nothing wrong with revisiting the inner child! :) Enjoy!

  2. I am going to have to try Pink Sugar. Great history of ethyl maltol.

    1. Thanks! :)
      Not really something to wear all the time, but from time to time it kinda reminds us we're all children if we so wish.


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