Tiny "Whif" of chocolate has global ambitions

Mon Nov 2, 2009 1:31pm EST
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By Lionel Laurent

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - When David Edwards first unveiled an inhaler which puffs micro-particles of chocolate into your mouth he never expected the initial production run of his "Le Whif" to sell out in less than a month.

"We did not imagine the reaction that we got at the end of the spring," said the 48-year-old Paris-based design entrepreneur. "We made 25,000 in April and they were all sold out before the first week of May."

The unusual chocolate experience has struck a chord, said Edwards, who is a professor of biomedical engineering at Harvard University. women in particular appreciate the Whif's convenient, handbag-friendly size, as well as the novelty of offering Whifs to guests after parties.

Now the challenge for Edwards and his design team, who work on the Rue du Bouloi as the "Labo Group," is to transform Le Whif from a niche design concept into a global brand.

The first test will be the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris, where Le Whif made its first appearance on October 26. Previously the inhaler had only been on sale at specialist Parisian outlet Colette or direct from the makers.

Now Le Whif will have to convince the Galeries' 700,000 daily visitors to spend 5.95 euros ($8.79) for a pack of three Whifs or 32 euros for a pack of 18.

Edwards said that by the end of 2010, Le Whif should be available in the United States, Asia and several European markets including Britain and Italy, where consumers are more used to unwrapping chocolate than inhaling it.

"We've gone from this artistic experience to a product that's selling in the biggest department store in Paris," said Edwards. "There's more to come." He hinted at a whole range of possible inhalable flavors, including savory snacks.   Continued...