Ethylvanillin is the organic compound
Organic compound
An organic compound is any member of a large class of gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical compounds whose molecules contain carbon. For historical reasons discussed below, a few types of carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon, and cyanides, as well as the...

 with the formula
Chemical formula
A chemical formula or molecular formula is a way of expressing information about the atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound....

 (C2H5O)(HO)C6H3CHO. This colourless solid consists of a benzene
Benzene is an organic chemical compound. It is composed of 6 carbon atoms in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom, with the molecular formula C6H6....

 ring with hydroxyl
A hydroxyl is a chemical group containing an oxygen atom covalently bonded with a hydrogen atom. In inorganic chemistry, the hydroxyl group is known as the hydroxide ion, and scientists and reference works generally use these different terms though they refer to the same chemical structure in...

, ethoxy, and formyl
An aldehyde is an organic compound containing a formyl group. This functional group, with the structure R-CHO, consists of a carbonyl center bonded to hydrogen and an R group....

 groups on the 4, 3, and 1 positions, respectively.


Ethylvanillin is a synthetic molecule, not found in nature. It is prepared via several steps from catechol, beginning with ethylation to give "guethol" (1). This ether condenses with glyoxylic acid
Glyoxylic acid
Glyoxylic acid or oxoacetic acid is an organic compound. Together with acetic acid, glycolic acid, and oxalic acid, glyoxylic acid is one of the C2 carboxylic acids. It is a colourless solid that occurs naturally and is useful industrially....

 to give the corresponding mandelic acid
Mandelic acid
Mandelic acid is an aromatic alpha hydroxy acid with the molecular formula C6H5CHCO2H. It is a white crystalline solid that is soluble in water and polar organic solvents. It is a useful precursor to various drugs...

 derivative (2), which via oxidation (3) and decarboxylation gives ethylvanillin (4).


As a flavorant, ethylvanillin is about three times as potent as vanillin
Vanillin is a phenolic aldehyde, an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3. Its functional groups include aldehyde, ether, and phenol. It is the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean. It is also found in Leptotes bicolor, roasted coffee and the Chinese red pine...

 and is used in the production of chocolate
Chocolate is a raw or processed food produced from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, Central and South America. Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC...

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