Quick Reads: Henry Alford, “Conducting a Field Test on Pheromones”


I’ve been an avid reader of Henry Alford’s prose for more than two decades, so I was delighted to note that his latest column for The New York Times recounts his unscientific, but highly amusing, field testing of synthetic pheromones.

(If you’ve ever accidentally stumbled across the online message boards and forums where men discuss their experiments with various pheromone products, and ended up rolling your eyes and/or uttering profanities,  you’ll find Alford’s column a refreshing change of pace.)

Alford is inspired to test one of these supposedly lust-inducing chemical compounds when he comes across an advertisement in, of all places, The New York Review of Books:

I called the phone number listed in the ad; Dr. Cutler answered. I ordered from her, for $99.50, a vial of pheromones (one-sixth of an ounce) to be added to alcohol-based aftershave or cologne. I told Dr. Cutler: “I’m sort of an affection pig. For me the ideal cologne would be a tiny burst of applause.”

You can read the full article here.

Illustration by Juliette Borda for The New York Times.


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