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How to turn women on … and off, too

Lenore Skenazy

Lenore Skenazy

Men, you are going to thank me for this column. Women, you, too. Because in the course of researching the latest perfume trends — as any serious journalist must — I learned from a bona fide scientific institute the three smells that most turn women off. Ready?

Cherries. Barbecued meat. And cologne.

“All acted to inhibit female sexual arousal,” reported Dr. Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dr. Hirsch! While the number of men rubbing themselves with cherries and/or spare ribs is not large (although if you ride the subways, you know they’re out there), the number of misguided men still slapping themselves with cologne is legion. Now at last they know: It is time to stanch the stench.

Why do these three particular scents make women turn up their noses, lovewise? Hirsch’s theories are not what you’d call ultra-deep, but then again, he seems to be the only guy studying this, so — we’ll stick with him.

Perhaps, he posits, the smell of cherries reminds women of the medicine they took as children. Yuck. Perhaps charred meat reminds them of cooking. Yuck. And perhaps, he says, “Cologne reminds them of going out with men.” Yuc … wha?

You mean a smell that reminds a woman that she’s going out with one of them again — you know, a man — is enough to doom a date? Well, says Hirsch, who has also spent real-life, grownup, paid time discovering that the scent of certain candies arouses women: “My advice for men is to get rid of the cologne and buy a box of Good and Plenty.”

Now, it takes a man who innately intuits the sex-junk food connection to even think of exploring the marital happinessgarlic bread connection. And that’s exactly what Hirsch also set his sights (smells?) on. In a study recently conducted by his institute (and it’s not that I didn’t interview real perfume companies about trends. I did! But you’d get sidetracked, too, if you learned that. Hirsch’s researchers visited 50 Chicagoland families, bringing them a free pasta dinner, twice. One time the dinner included garlic bread, one time it didn’t. The researchers then sat there, stomachs rumbling, observing the family’s interactions.

Conclusion? The garlic bread factor cannot be overstated. In its presence, researchers recorded 8 percent more positive family interactions and 22 percent fewer negative ones.

Now whether this was because the scent of the bread made everyone happy, or that eating it satisfied some basic instinct, like, say, hunger, or simply that the smell of garlic finally overwhelmed the smell of dad’s cologne, causing mom to crawl across the table, Sophia Loren-like, growling with lust … well.

I’m sure the invaluable Smell and Taste Foundation will let us know soon.

©2013 Creators

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