November 13, 2007


Foods of love? Not so fast, Casanova: Truths about these five edible aphrodisiacs aren't as sexy as myths (Kim Carney /

The list of alleged aphrodisiacs is ridiculously long. Possibly excepting rutabagas, almost every food has been claimed to help spark the flames of passion. Some suggestions are obvious, others a bit suspect. When last we checked, garlic wasn't on our checklist of date essentials.

Confusion reigns when it comes to the foods of love, in part because the very concept of the aphrodisiac is fuzzy. [...]

Let's consider five popular foods you might expect to find in Cupid's cupboard — and whether they deserve to be there.

5) Licorice and other aromatics

THE MYTH: Many spices and scents get a reputation for turning on the love hose, but licorice seems to trace back farther than most — to ancient China and to India, where it can be found in Kama Sutra preparations.

Recently, studies have claimed men were aroused by the smell of licorice and women by a combination of cucumber and Good & Plenty, a licorice-like candy.

THE REALITY: Those reports stem from research by Alan Hirsch, M.D., director of the Chicago-based Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Hirsch exposed Chicago-area men and women to various scents, and measured penile and vaginal blood flow as a signal of sexual arousal.

Among men, black licorice increased blood flow 13 percent; when combined with the smell of doughnuts, it jumped to 32 percent. A mix of lavender and pumpkin pie scored 40 percent, compared to just 3 percent for perfume.

While women were apparently aroused by the candy-cucumber mix, cherries actually decreased blood flow, as did the smells of barbecued meat and mens' cologne. (Sorry, guys.)

In related news, Lever announced it was diverting 80% of its 2008 R&D budget to coming up with a licorice/cucumber bodywash for men.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 13, 2007 6:49 AM

Of course, men who allow these things to be measured are, by definition, not representative of men generally.

Posted by: Ibid at November 13, 2007 9:12 AM

That depends upon how large the measurement is.

Posted by: Brandon at November 13, 2007 10:40 AM

Conspicuously absent are data on the results of smelling a properly hopped pint of IPA.

Posted by: JR at November 13, 2007 1:08 PM

Can't wait until I can buy perfume for my wife at Krispy Kreme....

Posted by: Matt at November 13, 2007 8:02 PM