This afternoon NPR posted an article on their website about some work researchers did trying to find out how the age of an individual affects their smell. Scientists had participants in the experiment wash themselves with odorless soap before going to bed in a T-shirt with absorbent pads in the armpit areas. It turns out when people later smelled the shirts (that sounds like a fun job), they were easily able to tell what shirts were worn by old people. They just described the smell as different, not negative although it’s hard not to wonder if researchers intentionally left off a check box where someone could’ve marked “stale peppermint.” The NPR article speculated that the elderly might smell bad because of a lack of hygiene or the scent of disease, two things that pop up later in life.
It’s not known what causes the smells to be so different as people age but one thing was clear: young men smell especially bad. The scent, probably somewhere between alcohol and old Philly cheese steaks if I had to guess, was also ambiguous but for some reason my girlfriend wasn’t surprised when I told her about the study.