Hey, you smell like...

8 years ago

Here's a bar conversation I've been imagining lately:

Dude: "Hey, how's it going?"
Girl: "Hey. ...You, uh, smell like hamburgers."
Dude: "Yeah. It's my body spray, Flame from Burger King. Hot, right?"
Girl: "...I have to go now."

Yes, for the grand total of four dollars, you can spray on the "body spray of seduction, with a hint of flame-broiled meat". Mmm! Hamburgers! Except without the actual hamburger part.

To be fair, though, I haven't smelled it. (It's sold out online at Ricky's, the only place you can buy it.) So maybe I'm being a little unfair on it... you know, the four dollar body spray you can only buy at a costume store and is being marketed with firemeetsdesire.com (warning: the website features Flash, porn-y music/voiceover, and the creepy Burger King being all coy with a fur rug in front of a fireplace).

And honestly, I've always been amused and intrigued by perfumes that attempt to match a scent we encounter in our every day lives -- whether it's wet rain, Earl Grey Tea, freshly picked tomatoes, or the smell of a laundromat.

You may already know of the fragrance line, Demeter Fragrance. They're famous for their simple little bottles and sniff-a-like scents from Playdoh to Sugar Cookie to Funeral Parlor. I've been a fan of the line for years, as it's a fun way to explore scents. My very favorite is Tomato, which smells like a warm sun-ripened red tomato just pulled off the vine.

There are limitations to how awesome Demeter can be, though, as sometimes it recreates things that you might not want to wear. Back in 2001, when the film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch came out, Demeter released a fragrance in tribute to Hedwig, the rock star protagonist, and my mother bought it for me for Christmas. She spoke to the customer service representative on the phone before ordering it: "What does 'Hedwig' smell like?" The representative replied, "Cigarettes, vodka, lipstick, hairspray, and cheap hotel rooms. It's great." And yes, that's exactly what it smelled like - so much so that it was pretty much unwearable. Fun to have the perfume, yes, but what's the point of a perfume that you can't wear?

Christopher Brosius, one of the original founders of Demeter and the creator of Hedwig perfume, understands this with his line, CB I Hate Perfume. He's opened up a Brooklyn gallery where you can experience some of the scents he's recreated, including the gallery-only Food series (corn chip, boiled rice, bruschetta) and the Chemical series (cello tape, crayon, doll's head, sunscreen). If you explore the various accord families, you'll see what you can order online and what can only be purchased in the gallery -- presumably after you've smelled them first.

But how wearable are they? Some more so than others, obviously, unless you really do want to smell like an inner tube. My favorites include Gathering Apples, which smells like juicy just-sliced apples, and Burning Leaves. Right now I'm anxiously waiting for the limited-edition (only available in December!) Gingerbread to arrive.

If you had to pick a scent from your every day life to wear as a perfume, what would it be? Would you go with something food-like, something smoky, something chemical-y, something green, or something like "sleepy baby head" (I know you're out there)? Or something, um, meaty?

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