Does 'Edible Deodorant' Pass the Smell Test?

(Image credit: GNU Free Documentation License | Jebulon)

There's already an industry devoted to stifling bad breath with minty candy, but a new sweet claims to bring the fight to your underarms.

Deo Perfume Candy "will not only taste good, but after consuming, will transmit an attractive rose fragrance through the skin," according to the website of Beneo, a Belgium-based company that helped develop the product.

The key ingredient, says Beneo, is geraniol, an alcohol found in rose petals that's commonly used in perfumes. Four Deo hard candies supposedly pack enough of the chemical to give a 145-pound person a six-hour perspiration bouquet.

Beneo points to Japanese research from 2006 that, according to the company, showed that aromatic compounds like geraniol can be detectably exuded from the skin after being orally consumed, but an olfaction expert who spoke to ABC News said he wasn't sure the perfume candy would work.

“I think we can probably agree that if you eat food with a lot of aromatic spice, like garlic and curry, eventually it will work its way into your sweat and influence the way you smell,” said George Preti, a chemist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “But no one has actually demonstrated that.”

Still, if anecdotal evidence provided by a garlic-radiating uncle is not enough to convince you that diet can affect body odor, scientists have begun to weigh in on the issue.

In 2006, researchers in the Czech Republic found that men with no red meat in their diets had body odors that were "significantly more attractive, more pleasant and less intense" than those of meat eaters, as judged by women. The result held when the study's male participants swapped diets, with the women then preferring the smells of the newly meat-free men to those of the lapsed vegetarians.

But that study only suggested that diet may alter body odor, not that there's a one-to-one correspondence between what you eat and how you smell.

Not advertised by Beneo is the fact that geraniol has also shown efficacy as a natural mosquito repellent. The compound doesn't, however, repel honeybees, which naturally secrete the chemical and use it to signal other bees to the location of nectar-laden flowers.

Of course, there's no data yet to suggest that the concentrations of geraniol that may or may not be exuded after eating Deo Perfume Candy would be enough to either attract or repel insects.

Whether or not Americans should buy the claims of Deo Perfume Candy, at least some of them seem to be buying the product. The company sold out its first batch on, which is for now the only retailer that sells edible deodorant in the United States.

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Life's Little Mysteries Staff Writer