By Crystal Lindell
Associate Editor
lindellc@bnpmedia.com

There’s nothing better than the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies, or fresh-from-the oven bread. But who wants to go through the trouble of baking the cookies and putting the bread in the oven?

Not a problem for the folks at Net Cost supermarket in Brooklyn, N.Y. They just use scent machines to import the perfect aromas into their aisles and let the shoppers noses do the rest.

Sure, it sounds a bit like modern psychological manipulations, but at it’s heart, it’s really an old-fashioned concept. Recall those wonderful days when most places that sold candy actually made chocolates on-site, and most bakeries actually baked the bread in house, leaving traces of the process to linger in the air all day.

The wondrous aromas of those activities no doubt spurred plenty of impulse purchases of cookies and French bread. Subway, a sub sandwich chain, is one of the last mass-market holdouts in this regard, baking their bread daily on site. I have been tempted more times than I’d like to admit to grab a turkey sandwich from the shop after smelling the fresh bread coming out of the ovens.

And granted, there are still a number of candy stores that make their sweet treats on site, but most confectionery retailers aren’t so lucky - be it for financial or logistical reasons. So, most of the time candies line the shelves in convenience stores, mass market chains, and gas station shops. (Nothing shouts “BUY THIS CANDY BAR” like the sweet smell of gasoline).

Luckily though, retailers can do exactly what Net Cost did - import the smells with a machine. Specifically, Net Cost goes through the company, ScentAir.

ScentAir offers 350 different aromas, according to a CBS News article. And those scents can can fill the aisles of any store, the hallways of any hotel and even the waiting rooms of a hospital.

According to information on the ScentAir website, the company has more than 30,000 installations in 105 countries, and their clients span a variety of industries, including Bloomingdales, Hard Rock Hotel, and a Florida Hospital.

The company claims that their fragrances help enhance environments, communicate brands and create memorable experiences for clients around the world. (Read: They make people buy stuff and then come back to buy more stuff).

The website lists a range of sweet scents that would no doubt appeal to the average retail confectioner, such as: cinnamon buns, sugar cookie, blue cotton candy (because the color blue apparently has its own scent), birthday cake, gingerbread man, candy cane, and french vanilla.

Those looking for something a little more interpretive have plenty of options too, such as: ocean, fresh air, quiet stream, mountaineer, and innocent.

If none of the offerings satisfy your nose though, have no fear because you can also create a custom scent for $5,000, according to CBS News. Visions of innocent mountaineers at the ocean eating birthday cake already are prompting my scent imagination.

In the end, it sounds like ScentAir and other companies like it are trying to fix another problem you didn’t know you had - just like the deodorant companies did when marketing their product in the 1950s.

Resistance may be futile my friends, as customers may come to expect such scents everywhere they shop. In that case, you can save your $5,000 by simply tempering some chocolate. In may be low-tech, but I bet it still works.