The biocatalytic production of flavor naturals that determine chemosensory percepts of foods and beverages is an ever challenging target for academic and industrial research. Advances in chemical trace analysis and post-genomic progress at the chemistry–biology interface revealed odor qualities of nature’s chemosensory entities to be defined by odorant-induced olfactory receptor activity patterns. Beyond traditional views, this review and meta-analysis now shows characteristic ratios of only about 3 to 40 genuine key odorants for each food, from a group of about 230 out of circa 10 000 food volatiles. This suggests the foodborn stimulus space has co-evolved with, and roughly match our circa 400 olfactory receptors as best natural agonists. This perspective gives insight into nature’s chemical signatures of smell, provides the chemical odor codes of more than 220 food samples, and beyond addresses industrial implications for producing recombinants that fully reconstruct the natural odor signatures for use in flavors and fragrances, fully immersive interactive virtual environments, or humanoid bioelectronic noses.