Gucci Rush. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Obsession. White Diamonds. All are perfumes. And like most perfumes, they are all designed to appeal or to attract. At times some women wear perfume simply to smell nice. Other times some women wear perfume to attract someone's attention.
If that someone is a man, those women might be better off wearing -- if it existed -- Eau de Pumpkin.
The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago conducted a study "to investigate the impact of ambient olfactory stimuli upon sexual response in the human male." In other words, they wanted to know what smells turn a man on.
It turns out the aroma of pumpkin gets a man's blood rushing more than any other.
The foundation says it studied 31 volunteers, men between the ages of 18 and 64. Dr. Alan Hirsch, the foundation's director, selected 24 different odorants, or fragrances for the study.
The test subjects were attached to a plethysmograph, a machine that measures blood flow caused by sexual arousal. They then were asked to breathe through various masks, both odor-free and odorized with the different aromas researchers were testing.
The smell of pumpkin was the most powerful turn-on, especially when mixed with the fragrance of lavender. The study says 40 percent of the test subjects were aroused the most by that combination of smells. Pumpkin combined with doughnuts also had a big effect on 20 percent of the subjects.
Why pumpkin? Why not some exotic fragrance perfume makers spend years and millions of dollars to develop? Dr. Hirsch and his team say a multitude of factors could be at play. They conclude that "the odors could induce a Pavlovian conditioned response reminding partners of sexual partners or their favorite foods."
We decided to test that theory with a very unscientific survey in our newsroom. We asked a couple of men what their response would be to the wafting odor of a pumpkin pie in the oven. Their reaction was a sort of rolling of their eyes, a licking of their lips saying, "Ooooh…ummmmm." That's a direct quote. They did not indicate, however, whether it was food or some other life experience that elicited their response.
The Hirsch team says the odors may also act neurophysiogically by activating a direct pathway connecting the olfactory bulb and pleasure centers of the brain.
It should be noted that every one of the fragrances used in this study stimulated all the test subjects to one degree or another. Dr. Hirsch observed, "Nothing turns a man…off."