Monday, April 7, 2014


But how to explain the relationship between sex and food? Is it biological?
My guess is that it is evolutionary. As all carnivore animals, we are all hunting - mating beings. That said, he who brings the food gets to mate with the female. Food and sex were and still are the main factors of human survival in this planet, therefore the ability to supply food establishes the relationship between a male and a female in which men demonstrate how well they are able to provide and take care of themselves and their future offspring. 

Back in 2009 I interviewed Dr. Avery Gilbert, a smell scientist, author of the book What the Nose Knows and blogger about the sense of smell and some aspects of their influence on human behavior. Back then he said that smell preferences has a lot to do with our biological and genetic constitution:

"...People often disagree about individual smells but there is agreement about general classes of smells. For example, fruity and floral notes are liked, while fecal and rotten ones are not. If there were no broad trends in preference there would be no perfume industry. Are odor preferences due to learning and experience? That’s the default assumption of most psychologists, who tend to dislike biological theories. I think the more we look for biological or even genetic bases for differences in odor perception, the more we will find".

Still interested in his opinion about human behavior and scents I asked him last week what were the food aromas that in his opinion triggered sexual attraction.  "Sweet notes and ripe fruit" he answered. Sharing the same line of thought that I have on human evolution and social interaction and also choosing fruits like Norman Veenker, he thinks that these notes in a hunter-gathering world would occur briefly in season, and would be associated with indulgent feasting; a nice compliment to sex. Also fruits were rare, desirable and exciting to find, therefore they were treasured, just like lovers.

I raise another question - Is it possible that linking food to sex has to do with the fact that we are breast fed mammals? Is it possible that men are sexually attracted and aroused by female breasts because they still have that satisfying rewarding sensation of being fed in their memory? An equation Food = female = sex?
Researching this subject I found out that nipple stimulation induces the production of oxytocin and its release not only can result to female sexual arousal, but also increases the feeling of bond and trust. Normally the stimulation that brings the nipple to pop out (erection) is for breast feeding. Funny thing is that when humans are not breastfeeding they are also able to feel the same sensation during breast stimulation as a foreplay and erotic stimuli (just like they do when breastfeeding).
Breasts hold two basic functions: nutritional and sexual.
I found the most primal relationship between food and sex in the nipples.

Does this answer the question of why gourmet fragrances are so successful?

In 1992 Thierry Mugler launched Angel, a perfume that was created to evoke the tenderness of the memories of a childhood, and for the first time food aromas were used to compose a fragrance for women. The notes were sweet as a childhood memory must be. Caramels, chocolate, vanilla, honey, coumarine, associated with dewberries, red berries, bergamot, helional, hedione and patchouli opened a new olfactive family in perfumery - the oriental gourmets. 
For year the success was explained by the fact that we all have a sweet tooth and that the fragrance brought to women the memories of their childhood.
I disagree by saying that we don´t need a fragrance to bring back our child memories.
All it takes is to open a family album and look at the pictures.
Angel brought a warm sensation to fragrances that was broad and new. Mature ladies felt young wearing Angel. It had a emotional "botox" effect on them. Today I think that the love for Angel has to do with the fact that youth equal being sexually active and fertile. What this means is that in a monogamic society, if a man secures a mate, he needs to finds one with the most reproductive potential. Choosing a younger woman maximize reproductive success, therefore women need to be young to be desirable. 
Our culture values youth and 22 years later Angel is still a success, and not only that, the advertising of the fragrance became over the years more and more related to sex, exposing more skin and displaying sexier models. 
Asking Dr. Gilbert if fragrances can enhance sexual attraction and desired he confirms my thoughts on Angel:

"...Smell is a major channel of social communication for most mammals, and a lot of the broadcasts are about sex: gender, maturity, availability, and so on. That’s our evolutionary background. Being human, we also interpret smells symbolically. So all sorts of odors can become eroticized".

But explaining the success of gourmet fragrances, he also adds:
"They are easy to enjoy—even a beginner can recognize food-related aromas. Also, they spark more psychological associations than do floral and botanical notes: for example, to hunger, flavor, eating, and mouth-feel."

I have had been thinking of writing about the food - sex- fragrance interrelationship for a long time, but never really took the time to research it properly until I met Hervé Mathieu.
Hervé Mathieu is French and an international consultant for marketing strategy and luxury perfume development and blogger, and in his blog I discovered the video series Chromatic Porn Food.  Hervé's article was not only my starting point to this journey, but also very kind to share with me his thoughts on the matter. His insights are really interesting and worth reading:

"My personal theory is that fragrances are a substitute for the sense of smell that the human species has lost with time and evolution. As mammals, we used our sense of smell to identify our potential mate. Throughout the millennia, the accuracy of the human sense of smell has constantly decreased, and during the recent ages it has been “civilized” a lot: as described by Patrick Süskind, people used to live in stench. Nowadays, in most developed countries we cannot stand strong smells anymore. As a consequence of that, I believe that fragrances are not only used for pleasing the senses, but also to convey a message within a socially acceptable seduction ritual. This message must not be too obvious or explicit, but nevertheless most of us can easily decipher its implicit code: some fragrances are “hot” and some are not, some are overtly sexual while some are business-like and casual and this is readable by anyone".

When I asked about food aromas that can trigger sexual desire he explained:
"Aromas that can trigger sexual desire can be classified in two main groups. The first group are aromas that “disguise” the skin, pretending it is something that it is not... According to studies, Vanilla is the most-liked aroma in the world. Obviously, so a skin wrapped in vanilla will be attractive. Other aromas which are related to vanilla such as chocolate or caramel can have a similar effect. The other group is made of those aromas that enhance the natural fragrance of the skin, such as spices. Cumin, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, clove and of course chilli have the ability to excite the senses when it comes to “spicing things up”, as we say! Some voluptuous flowers can also have an effect on one’s libido like gardenia, which I consider as the sexy side of jasmine. Femme de Rochas, which was created in 1944 by Edmond Roudnitska has a lot of spices in its original formula and it is by far the most erotic fragrance I know!"

But how do we explain the success of gourmet fragrances, I asked Hervé?
"They are a different, somewhat more explicit way to express sexual desire: “I want you, I love the taste of your skin, I want to devour you” are things that lovers commonly say to each other. With those gourmet notes, we are getting closer to one’s appetite for the desired one. They are a new way to express a very ancient feeling".

Luca Turin once said that the scent that drives men wild is bacon and Farginnay tends to agree.

As the brand describes the fragrance "bacōn Classic is designed for men and women.  A common question, does this fragrance really smell like bacon?  The answer is yes & no.  Our Classic formula is a sophisticated spicy maple fragrance with just a hint of bacon and the fun… is in finding it.  This artisanal Classic formula is lovingly crafted with the pure essential oil blend of bergamot, orange, lime, grapefruit, black pepper, cedar wood, vetiver, guaiacwood and two pinches of Bacon salty goodness.  What on earth could you be waiting for?  Available while supplies last." 

Pork Barrel, a brand of sauces and Spice Rubs for barbecued pork meat whiffs pork on the skin with their QUE Cologne or Eau de piglet as it has been called by other reviewers. As the brand describes it it is an intoxicating bouquet of smoke, meat & sweet summer sweat "Que is an intoxicating bouquet of spices, smoke, meat & sweet summer sweat, and is the latest development in wearable scents and is quickly becoming a hit among meat lovers, grill masters and backyard BBQ’ers. Recognizing the absence of a barbeque-scented cologne and perfume, Pork Barrel BBQ worked with a team of craftsmen and fine perfumers to create the perfect barbeque aroma. Until now, no fragrance manufacture has ever succeeded in bottling the intoxicating scents associated with barbeque and its mixture of spices, smoke and meat. This product is 100% real and sure to make you a hit at your next backyard BBQ and makes a great gift for your favorite BBQer."

My question is: Do we really want to smell like food?
My guess is NO, but as advertising teasers or attention capturers fragrances with food and beverage aromas became really trendy. Burger King, Pizza Hut, Stilton Cheese and many other brands are developing their perfumes as a marketing strategy to leverage sales.
It is odd, it is fun and most of all they are multi-sensorial marketing strategies. 
The last marketing campaign is the launch of EAU DE TOST by The Federation of Bakers to challenge the fashion for bread-free diets. The perfume was developed by The Aroma Company and the composition brings hints of caramel and bitter-sweet notes, yeast and malty base notes to produce the aroma that reminds of a toasted bread.
Smelling of bakery goods is not new in perfumery. We have over the years many launched perfumes that contain in their composition the smell of cookies, cakes and pastries.

To end this journey I made here a compilation of articles and lists of fragrances for you and I leave a question: Do you like to smell like food?

I end this article by saying goodbye because for me now it is lunch time and I am craving for a steak, potatoes and bacon!

Sweet readings:

A beautiful essay on Angel EDP by Luxury Activist

Le Whif

Sweet tooth fragrances table

Vive La Gourmandise!

Cooking with your nose

A brand with a vast collection of gourmet fragrances: Parfumerie Générale
Read - Delicious Perfumed Gourmandises
Recommended gourmet fragrances from PG - Tonkamande EDP, Praliné de Santal EDP

Bakery goodies:
Eau de Tost 
Mefisto EDP by Xerjoff
Tommy Girl 10
Matin Calm by Comptoir de Sud
PooPoo Pidoo EDP by EgoFacto
Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens

Piment Brûlant - L'Artisan P
Bond N9 So New York
Eau de Frohliche by Erik Kormann
Iris Ganache by Guerlain
Coromandel by Chanel
Angel by Thierry Mugler

Lovely Gourmandises:
Prada Candy EDP
Royal Rose by M. Micallef
L by Lolita Lempicka

Perfumed Food Porn:
Le 6 by Ida Delam
Secrétions Magnifiques by ELO

Strange Gourmandises:
Poivre Piquant - L'Artisan P
Bois de Farine - L'Artisan P
Love EDP by Killian
L'Heure Defendue VII - Cartier
Womanity by Thierry Mugler
Lobster by Demeter
Bacon by Farginnay
Stilton Cheese by Stilton
Pizza Hut fragrance
Burger King fragrance
Tamale by Demeter
BBQ Pork Body spray


Magnifiscent said...

Do we really want to smell like food?
My answer is no too. Despite I agree on the food-sex connection, I think what we want to smell reflects many aspects of us and not just our aim to enhance sex appeal. For example, another aspect quite strong during the '90s gourmand boom was the "clean" factor. It was the post '80s HIV era and people were disoriented and scared. Sex was not anymore the same and people wanted to communicate they were healty too. As we know this popped out in huge loads of calone, DHMol etc. This perfectly match with the food-sex link because people were having a more cautious sex life, so this turned into less sex, more food at least sublimated in smell.
As a conclusion, perfume symbolizes a mix of feelings one wants to express, so food hints in a fragrance can be the right amount of "yummy sex" as a hidden message mixed with social acceptance, elegance and energy.

+Q Perfume Blog said...

Very true. I mentioned in PART I that condom companies launched condoms with taste in the 90's exactly for the reason you raised here.
Hervé Mathieu mentioned something very interesting too about the taste for fragrances which was not published in my article but I can post it here. I asked:

Why in your opinion gourmet fragrances are such a success?

he answered:

People’s taste in perfumes is like a pendulum, following a cycle of (more or less) fifteen years: it swings from a taste in sensual fragrances to more abstract ones, and back. After a period of time that ranges from the 90’s to the middle of the 2000’s when the general taste was influenced by the North American trend for clean, almost ethereal fragrances, the pendulum has swung back to more voluptuous notes. Also, the brands wanted to offer something new, these are the rules of the market. Perfumers started to look into things that they had not done before, something different from the classic oriental and Chypre way of expressing sensuousness and this is how gourmet fragrances emerged. They are a different, somewhat more explicit way to express sexual desire: “I want you, I love the taste of your skin, I want to devour you” are things that lovers commonly say to each other. With those gourmet notes, we are getting closer to one’s appetite for the desired one. They are a new way to express a very ancient feeling.

I don't think we all use perfume to get sex. I love the smell of irises. If I could I would love to have that smell on my hair. It is not about sex. It is about walking around and smelling irises on the hair.

I love to wear a fragrance that is chic when I am well dressed. I do it for myself - just as an accessory, I feel that a chic perfume gives the final touch of my look. Sometimes they are not exactly a sensual perfume. It could be a vintage one because I am wearing a vintage look, so I want to "feel" vintage and this is totally a personal experience with myself - no male partners involved.
But what I do think is that our cravings for gourmet fragrances is biological and it has to do with sex.

XOX, Simone

Magnifiscent said...

Totally agreed, we wear fragrances for multiple purposes and sex appeal is just one of them.
Last small hint on the food-sex connection: I was thinking to vanilla which name comes from the spanish "vainilla" due the shape of the flower recalling a small vagina to the conquistadores. From sex to flower, from to smell to taste and back to sex. The circle is complete :-*

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