A Fragrant Journey: 45 Intricate Facts About the History of Perfumes

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26Scented Pouch

Scented Pouch

Women in Ancient Egypt and 18th century France used to keep a scented pouch in their vagina for a while before presenting it to a prospective lover.

27. A Dutch designer sells a ‘memory box’ for grieving widows that contains the scent of their husband’s favorite perfume, a speaker to play his favorite songs, and a gold/glass dildo containing his cremated ashes.

28. Scottish actor Alan Cumming has a line of fragrances and lotions called “Cumming.”

29. Ancient Egyptians invented several forms of early deodorant, including cones made out of scented grease that was worn on top of the head. As the grease melted, it ran in cooling, fragrant trails down the person’s face and body.

30. In addition to books, France operates a legal deposit scheme for perfumes, where a copy of every new fragrance has to be sent to the library for preservation.

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31Scented Crayons

Scented Crayons

In 1994 Crayola released scented crayons but had to retire the food scented ones after a year because parents complained that they “smelled good enough to eat.”

32. The world’s oldest existing perfume company was started in 1709 in Cologne, Germany, by Giovanni Maria Farina. His fragrance was so popular and widely plagiarized that its name became a generic term: “Eau de Cologne.”

33. Dimethyl sulfide, one of the most repugnant chemicals, is found naturally in onions and asparagus. Surprisingly it is also found in roses and germaniums. Therefore is used in perfumery to enrich the rosiness of geranium oil and to replicate the odor of the seaside, as it is one of the chemicals found naturally in the air on beaches.

34. Tapputi was a Babylonian perfume-maker who is widely considered to be the world’s first chemist. A cuneiform tablet from 1200 B.C. describes one of her perfumes, made from flowers, oils, balsam, myrrh, and various solvents.

35. Ancient Egyptians believed perfumes to be the sweat of sun god Ra. They even had a god of perfume, named Nefertum, who was responsible for the art of creating scents. Pharaohs were often buried with perfumes so that even in the afterlife, they would not have to encounter any unpleasant smells.

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36Civet Cat

Civet Cat

Many perfumes use the secretions from the anal glands of an animal called the civet cat to give them a ‘musky’ odor.

37. The Black Plague in the 13th century was thought to be contagious through the air because of the bad stench it made, so incense and perfumes were used to “cure” it.

38. The most expensive bottle of perfume ever sold (as of Feb 2021) was a container of DKNY Golden Delicious perfume. It was put up for sale for $1 million in 2011. Its bottle was set with tourmalines, sapphires, rubies, and diamonds.

39. Silphium was an extremely popular plant that was used as a spice, perfume, and medicine in classical antiquity. Its high demand resulted in it being harvested to extinction and thus nobody has known its taste or smell for millennia.

40. In the world of perfumery, people who craft scents are known as “noses.” One of the most famous noses of the 20th century was Jean Carles who created many of the most famous perfumes of the century. Since his nose was so important, it is said that he had it insured for $1 million.

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41Flame Body Spray

Flame Body Spray

In 2008, Burger King launched its own Flame body spray that offered to bring the scent of flame-grilled meat to the perfume world.

42. Beaver’s butts secrete a substance called castoreum, which the animals use to mark their territory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists castoreum as “generally regarded as safe” additive, and manufacturers have been using it extensively in perfumes and foods for at least 80 years.

43. Eau de Titan is a perfume made by ‘The Eden Project’ from titan arum which is the world’s smelliest flower. The flower smells like a corpse and the perfume is marketed towards men who want to take their scent to a “bold and completely new direction”.

44. There is a perfume intended for cows that makes them smell like humans, thereby luring mosquitoes to bite them instead of us.

45. Perfumes and cologne with citrus and floral scents expire sooner than those with heavier, woody scents.

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