Fumes in the News: Stench Soup




The branch of United States Armed Forces has researched a universal stank for use in a nonlethal capacity, reports Harper's Magazine (August 2013). In "A Brief History of Scent", writer Beau Friedlander discusses an entertaining variety of off-label uses for the smell of cadavers, including "Stench Soup".

An olfactory strategist named Pamela Dalton told Friedlander that she worked on a project for the U.S. military who had "wanted to know if there was a 'universal malodor' that caused people from any culture to leave the area."

The answer, Dalton said, was a nonlethal biological agent...known as Stench Soup. In [a] test trial, volunteers were asked to drink a milkshake while smelling Stench Soup. Most couldn't.

"What we realized rather quickly," Dalton told me, "was that if [the odor] was going to transcend culture, it had to be something that had biological significance, and that's why we focused on things like vomit.... We worked on our own formula for human feces. We did a rotting-sewage odor, rotting meat."

Stench Soup works on the principle that something truly repulsive needs to have something nice in it to make the olfactory mucosa want more. Said Dalton, "Combining these unpleasant formulas with...a floral or a fruity odor was what made the thing so disgusting none of us could stand it."

Shades of Sécrétions Magnifiques, methinks.




Further on the topic of Stench Soup, Bionity.com reports:
The Guinness Book of Records lists two smelliest substances. One is the "US Government Standard Bathroom Malodor", a vile mixture of eight chemicals with stench resembling human feces, only much stronger, designed to test the efficacy of deodorizers and air fresheners.

Another one, "Who me?", is a mixture of five sulfur-containing chemicals and smells like rotting food and carcasses. "Who me?" was designed during World War II, for use by the French Resistance to humiliate the German soldiers. Dalton...has combined the worst of the two to make "Stench Soup".
Who me? No pointing necessary, mister.

And according to an article on MentalFloss.com:
...hundreds of people wrote and called Dalton to tell her about the God-awful smells that only she, as an expert, would appreciate, [including]: Burning cat poop. (This person confided that, in the spirit of discovery, she had actually put her cat's poop on a lit barbeque.) Five pounds of raw shrimp left in a vacation home over the winter. The fluid excreted by a dog's anal glands. "My mother's basement." The socks and underwear of a guy named Gary. Wrote a friend of Gary: "All you would have to do is throw a pair of his socks in the Taliban caves in Afghanistan and I promise you they would come running out."


33 comments:

  1. "The answer, Dalton said, was a nonlethal biological agent...known as Stench Soup. In [a] test trial, volunteers were asked to drink a milkshake while smelling Stench Soup. Most couldn't."

    Maybe those people just didn't like milkshakes?

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    1. Good point. Maybe milkshakes are not as universally loved as the researchers assumed.

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  2. Is this blog over? In the last three months, it seems the content has been a copy and paste of an event and a news article, a report from a man- who doesn't like vetiver fragrances- about how has bought a bottle of a vetiver fragrance (with no follow on on what his reaction to it is), and a sixty year old lady talking about how she is layering bois des iles parfum with molecule 01 in order to try and create a jockey-short-dropper. Anyway, Katie, I hope you are alright in case there are personal reasons for the makeshift nature of your blog recently, and I hope it gets back its previous standard of content soon, and- if you are having personal difficulties- that they get resolved. All the best.

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    1. Hi Anonymous. You'd be surprised to know the effort that goes into even my makeshiftiest of articles. But I will allow that frequency of posting is under par. Trying to get back on the good foot. Thank you for checking in, and will endeavor to get back to consistent scentertainment.

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    2. Also, thanks to your nudge re the missing follow-on from Dan's vetiver exploration, it's coming up next.

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    3. I am always delighted when I see a new post from Katie. She has one of the few blogs that I actually read faithfully, and by "few," I mean one of maybe three. Also, I get the impression that she has been very busy lately with various other writing projects, covering cultural and artistic events in London, etc., so she's hardly been doing nothing. You can check out her other work at the Guardian, Mixties, etc. I'm sure that there are days when she simply does not feel like writing or responding to viewer e-mails or answering comments or questions, but she does it anyway.

      I think Anon's comment was a little unfair, and quite honestly, a bit condescending towards the end. This is a blog done for fun, we read it for fun. She "owes," her readers nothing, and certainly not an explanation of her personal life.

      And that is me not taking the high road as the gracious Ms. Puckrik has done.

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    4. Nora B, you're a dear, thanks for comin' out swinging on my behalf. Real life has indeed intruded on my KP Smells availability. But I do take Anon's point re the recent scarcity of posts, and because I do write this blog for fun, why not keep that fun rolling along? Also, I love the ongoing conversation with you all -- the insights, the jokes, the bouncing back and forth. So I'll take your spoonful of sugar along with Anon's medicine, and inspired by the loyalty of all of my readers, will see you here more regularly from now on.

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    5. Seconding Nora over here! Always have fun when I swing by KPSmells HQ. :)
      Justineantonia xoxo

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    6. Oh Nora, thank goodness we will probably never meet in real life! We would so not get on! hahahahaha!

      However, it is good to hear there will be more frequent posts on KP smells though, and that that follow up of the Umbra review is coming (and has indeed arrived).


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    7. Katie you rock! Do what you want; it's your blog. P.s. I just put it together that the opening of Angel smells del monte crushed pineapple.

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    8. Thanks, Noah. And now I want to eat really cold, fresh pineapple.

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  3. Replies
    1. Yes, in that Urban Dictionary kind of way.

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  4. It's nice to "see" you, Katie - regardless of what's the content of the post is. But I was curious to read this one: it's not something I would have come accross on my own and those were interesting tidbids close to the area of our mutual interests.

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    1. Hi Undina, I was so tickled by the "stench soup" concept when I read about it in Harper's, and was keen to share it with y'all. Glad you got a boot out of it, too. I'm fascinated by the pretty perfumes that we all hunt and gather, of course. But I'm also riveted by the psychology behind, and behavior triggered by, smells in general.

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  5. Yes, I read "A Natural History of the Senses," and it was very intriguing, especially the chapter on scent.

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    1. That's one of my favorite books, Nora! I especially love the chapter wherein she describes our olfactory response(s) to violets.

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  6. I don't know if this a high road or a low road. I'm not always good with directions, and of course I never ask.....but I do love your blog, Katie, and I especially appreciate that you include both unisex scents, as well as strictly masculine scents both in your own reviews as well as opening your site up and sharing the spotlight with Dan. How very gracious and generous of you. I think it helps reveal the breadth of your interest in frags (and I've never used the word "breadth" in a written sentence before!) My wife and I both enjoyed watching your Secretions Magnifiques review, again, and completely understood your comment about trying it again, even though you also said you wouldn't. Thanks for keeping it fun, as well as informative and inspiring. And thank to Dan, too. I do agree with Anonymous point as I interpreted it, that we can never get enough of Katie Puckrick!!!

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    1. Hey! This is turning out to be a nice little pep club, here. Thank you for laying on the cheer, m'dear.

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  7. As to the special odor of dog's anal glands, my daughter, who is a dog groomer, can attest to the unique reekiness (my word) of the stuff. And on a bad day with a bad aim, she has ended up sprayed with the stuff. There should be hazardous duty pay - or at least a tip from the dog's owner.

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  8. I think it's cool that Katie got some grief because people ONLY write in like that because they care. Whiners show interest. Katie's not blogging to herself here.

    Besides, anyone who doesn't include Lady Gagas' Fame in a stench soup isn't really trying. That frag is like huffing the funk sweat of an unrepentant alcoholic.

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    1. That's nice, Stefush! And between your Stench Soup recommendations and your thought on Comme des Garcons Blue Series, I see a future in corporate olfactory consultation for you.

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    2. SCENE: HIGHRISE, METRO AREA

      FLACK enters.
      FLACK: Here are some more samples and lab results, Mr. Stefush.
      STEFUSH: (obviously drunk) WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE TRYING TO DO TO MY BRAIN????

      FLACK: I'm sorry, sir. Just, if you could tell us which ones for this season? (inching backwards)

      STEFUSH: (swiping every vial to the floor) YOU'RE DESTROYING EVERYTHING I LOVE IN THIS WORLD!!

      FLACK: Very good, sir. The Apocalypse series will launch tomorrow.

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    3. You're King Midas in reverse.

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    4. Looo-ve that song, both the Hollies and the Posies versions.

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  9. Dear Katie
    In my limited experience, the cauliflower, that most benign of vegetables, is made vicious with the process of ageing and decay. One left accidentally at the back of a kitchen cupboard caused several days of extreme olfactory injury until located once.
    Oh and rotting mole corpse is unlikely to make a list of notes (even at ELd'O) anytime soon.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

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    1. This recent heat has made the compost recycling container especially "vicious". Hazmat time.

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  10. My three year old has gotten into an annoying habit of cleaning out the fridge and hiding food in random drawers or cupboards.

    "Surprise! Green carrots!"

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