Ancient texts and archaeological excavations show that perfumes were used in some of the earliest human civilizations. Modern perfumery began in the late 19th century with the commercial synthesis of aromatic compounds such as vanillin or coumarin, which made perfume scents previously unavailable only from natural aromatics.
Cinnamic acid is a central intermediate in the biosynthesis of a myriad of natural products including signals (precursors to lignin and lignocellulose), flavonoids, isoflavonoids, coumarins, aurones, stilbenes, catechin, and phenylpropanoids. Its biosynthesis involves the action of the enzyme phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL) on phenylalanine.
While fragrant liquids for the body are often considered perfumes, true perfumes are defined as extracts or fragrances and contain a percentage of alcohol distilled oil. Water is also used. The United States is the largest perfume market in the world, with annual sales in the billions of dollars.
Natural ingredients are the most expensive. Natural ingredients are the most expensive because they are any of three: 1) rare, 2) hard to obtain, and/or, 3) heavily regulated. Due to the depletion of their natural sources, items like natural ebony oil are very rare.
Among the aldehydes, benzaldehyde (almond aroma) and vanillin are the most important and widely used by the food industry. Benzaldehyde is used in aroma compositions due to its bitter almond odor and is applied as a starting material for a large number of aliphatic fragrance and flavor materials.