ASENOVGRAD, Bulgaria (AFP) - There are sprays, roll-ons and sticks. Now one Bulgarian candy-maker is offering a new kind of deodorant: in the form of delicious sweets.
"It's an old saying that true beauty comes from inside.... Why not from a candy?" Ventsislav Peychev, owner of Bulgaria's small Alpi candy factory owner, told AFP.
He claims his Deo Perfume Candy can neutralise body odour and replace it with a lingering sweet scent for up to six hours, depending on a person's size and how many sweets they have gobbled up.
The sweets - which look like typical bonbons and are available in hard, chewy and even sugar-free versions - are based on research by Japanese scientists who found that a major component of rose oil, geraniol, was not broken down by the body but excreted through the skin.
Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest country, is a major producer of rose oil.
"Geraniol is an antipode of garlic.... It also comes out through the pores but instead of leaving a bad smell, it perfumes the body," said Peychev.
Awarded a bronze medal at the Geneva Exhibition of Inventions in 2011, and a technical innovation award at the SIAL food exhibition in Paris this past October, the deodorant candy, selling for US$5.98 (S$7.90) a pack on amazon.com, is already on sale in the United States, Asia and several European counties.
Although the concept is not new, Peychev's product is the only one on the market now after a Japanese manufacturer stopped making its Otoko Kaoru chewing gum based on the same idea.
- Does it work? -
Each piece of Peychev's candy contains three milligrammes of geraniol-rich rose or lavender essential oil, which apparently men prefer.
"This quantity is enough for the smell to last for six hours depending on the body mass of the consumer, an average of 65 kilos. Heavier people should eat more candies - two, three, four," said Dimitar Hadzhikinov, a professor at the Plovdiv University of Food Technology who helped Alpi develop the candy.
The effect is quicker with the soft and sugar-free candies, which dissolve more easily in the mouth. And since all the ingredients are natural, there's no need to feel bad about eating a few more than necessary, according to Hadzhikinov.
An AFP correspondent who stuffed herself with the bonbons said she did smell even more sweetly than usual afterwards, although not one exactly of roses. A whiff also remained long after the taste of the candies had gone.
Whether the candy - priced at about two leva (S$1.70) for a packet of 20 on the Bulgarian market - will find a large audience remains to be seen.
George Preti, a chemist with the Monell Chemical Senses' Centre in Philadelphia, told AFP it was difficult to judge if such products worked as their makers "seldom, if ever, present any analytical or clinical data to support their claims of deodorancy."
No previous edible or chewable deodorant product appears to have succeeded in getting much of a hold on the market, he added.
But this will not stop Peychev, who views functional foods not only as a business but a passion.
The lively 55-year-old former engineer previously developed an energy candy with caffeine and guarana, a cooling sweet with vitamins and calcium, and a slimming one with a soluble dietary fibre called inulin.
His company Alpi, in the southern town of Asenovgrad, now employs about 40 workers and churned out 500 tons of sweets last year, with a turnover of two million euros.
Financially at least, things are smelling sweet.