(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘scent

“Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will”*…


Woodcut engraving from the mid-16th century depicting the process of distilling essential oils from plants with a conical condenser

Since ancient times, people have felt that eliminating the foul odors of human bodies and effluvia is an effective– indeed, in some times and cultures, the most effective–  way to improve public health.

Consider the sweet, intoxicating smell of a rose: While it might seem superficial, the bloom’s lovely odor is actually an evolutionary tactic meant to ensure the plant’s survival by attracting pollinators from miles away. Since ancient times, the rose’s aroma has also drawn people under its spell, becoming one of the most popular extracts for manufactured fragrances. Although the function of these artificial scents has varied widely—from incense for spiritual ceremonies to perfumes for fighting illness to products for enhancing sex appeal—they’ve all emphasized a connection between good smells and good health, whether in the context of religious salvation or physical hygiene.

Over the last few millennia, as scientific knowledge and social norms have fluctuated, what Westerners considered smelling “good” has changed drastically: In today’s highly deodorized world, where the notion of “chemical sensitivity” justifies bans on fragrance and our tolerance of natural smells is ever diminishing, we assume that to be without smell is to be clean, wholesome, and pure. But throughout the long and pungent history of humanity, smelling healthy has been as delightful as it has disgusting…

The whole stinky story at “Our Pungent History: Sweat, Perfume, and the Scent of Death.”

* Patrick Süskind, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer [an amazingly good novel]


As we hold our noses, we might spare a thought for Sir Joseph William Bazalgette; he died on this date in 1891.  A civil engineer, he became chief engineer of London’s Metropolitan Board of Works, in which role his major achievement was a response to the “Great Stink of 1858,” in July and August 1858, during which very hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent.  Bazalgette oversaw the creation of a sewer network for central London which addressed the problem– and was instrumental in relieving the city from cholera epidemics and in beginning the cleansing of the River Thames.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 15, 2016 at 1:01 am

“You shouldn’t have to have money to have a luxury fragrance”*…


Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.
― Patrick Süskind

Demeter Fragrance Library Introduces Pizza: a scent with notes of “tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella, a touch of oregano – perfectly balanced for the adventurous.”

To judge from the feedback, it pleases…

* Lady Gaga


As we wear our hearts on our sleeves… and our wrists and behind our ears, we might recall that it was on this date in 1931 that Alka-Seltzer was introduced to the market.  During a flu outbreak in 1928, Hub Beardsley, the president of The Dr. Miles Medicine Company (later, Miles Laboratories), had visited a local newspaper in Elkhart, Indiana, and learned from the editor, Tom Keene, that the staff seemed to be resistant to the illness. Keene explained that at the first sign of illness, he treated staff members with a combination of aspirin and baking soda.  Beardsley asked his chief chemist, Maurice Treneer, to develop an effervescent tablet with aspirin (a pain reliever) and sodium bicarbonate (an antacid) as the main ingredients; the resulting tablet hit the market with an advertising blitz that has not abated to this day.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 21, 2014 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: