my korkers never smell, but i'd love bubblegum scent ANYTHING!
Maybe check the dowels that you're using. Some wood puts out a smell when it's heated.
Also, I don't starch my ribbon at all - I wrap the dowel with my grosgrain ribbon, and then wet it down just with tap water, then bake it at 180 degrees (Celsius, i'm an Aussie!) for about 15 minutes. I've never yet had a korker lose it's curl, even in the ridiculous humidity we get here.