Isonitriles have been described as the Godzilla of smells; they're that bad. This coupled with the fact that they require hazardous starting materials to make has kept them out of the synthetic laboratory. Now, Michael Pirrung and Subir Ghorai, of the University of California at Riverside have found a way to make a new class of these compounds that side-steps the starting material hazard and produces compounds that are more effective than the non-smelly counterparts of conventional isonitriles. More importantly, in one sense, the new reactants don't trigger a prehistoric reaction to their odor. Instead, they smell rather pleasantly, of soy, malt, natural rubber, mild cherry and even taffy, according to the Riverside team. The researchers carry out a metalation of the oxazoles to ring-open their ingredients and produce an isocyanoenolate that can be O-acylated to give an unsaturated isonitrile for conventional multicomponent reactions.