Today, flavor and fragrance houses bring in annual revenues of twenty billion dollars. About ninety per cent of the money that Americans spend in the supermarket goes toward processed food, much of which could not be made without companies like Givaudan. “Most of the food-and-beverage companies have become marketing-and-distribution companies,” a flavor-company executive told me, only somewhat in jest. I understood what he meant when, in one of his laboratories, I saw a number of his colleagues working on a tasteless “slurry,” consisting largely of starch, oil, and salt, which a client was hoping to transform into a marketable product. The client had asked the flavor company’s in-house chef to develop various dips, such as guacamole, using fresh ingredients; after settling on the best recipes, the company’s flavorists mimicked them chemically, with an eye toward injecting the flavor compounds into the slurry in the most stable and cost-effective way.