Identification and characterisation of odorants in a squishy toy using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/olfactometry after thermal extraction

  • Christoph Wiedmer
  • Andrea BuettnerEmail author


Soft, squashable toys known as squishies have become increasingly popular amongst children. In this study, one such toy was evaluated sensorially by a trained panel and analytically using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry/olfactometry (GC-MS/O) after thermal extraction of the sample. Sensory analysis revealed the presence of an intense and unpleasant odour exhibited by the sample. The smell was dominated by almond- and inflatable swimming aid-like, as well as malty and glue-like notes, but also pleasant odours that were described as caramel-like and coconut-like. GC-MS/O analysis identified 2-butoxyethanol, cyclohexanone, γ-nonalactone, and ethyl maltol as being the main causative substances for the overall odour of the product. The data additionally indicated that the pleasant smelling substances γ-nonalactone (coconut-like smell) and ethyl maltol (caramel-like smell) were intentionally added by the manufacturer to mask the unpleasant odour of the solvents.


Gas chromatography olfactometry (GC-O) Products of daily use Off-odour Plastic Toys 



The authors would like to thank Martina Schuster and Johannes Thürmer for discussions on this topic and for providing the sample.

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was conducted in agreement with the Declaration of Helsinki. The study (registration number 180_16B) was approved by the Ethical Committee of the Medical Faculty, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Informed consent was obtained from all subjects participating in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Chair of Aroma and Smell Research, Emil Fischer CenterFriedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Department Sensory AnalyticsFraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVVFreisingGermany

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