At Cocktails & Colognes (there is nothing in that name I don’t like!), Harry writes about biochemist and fragrance scholar Luca Turin, as well as the very American concept of “clean” smells and tastes:
Toothpaste has to be minty, but why? Other countries has salty or anise-flavored toothpaste, even clove. And the smell of clean laundry is a very specific thing for Americans, something that isn’t universal. It’s all about musks, which is a counter-intuitve term for many of us, because the very word conjures of images of dirty animals.
I hate too-strong minty toothpaste.When I could afford it, I was a worshipful devotee of the Japanese-made Breath Palette, whose flavors include blueberry, chocolate, and for the adventurous, pine or lavender. I also hoarded the short-lived Crest Flavor Expressions in hot cinnamon. Nowadays toothpastes come in enough “gentle” and “mild” flavors that I don’t get too fussed over it. But I can dream.
As for musks, I will never forget attending a Serge Lutens training morning in Sydney where a bottle of Muscs Koublai Khan was passed around. If you don’t know this scent, all I can say is that it is the most pungently animalic musk on the market. There are those who will fall to their knees with joy on sniffing it (about 30% of the employees present), and those who retch in horror at its barnyard primitivity (the 70%). Sometimes it is hard to believe that those potent sex molecules, designed by nature for the explicit purpose of attracting a sexual partner, are (in their synthetic form) the things we Americans associate with purity, and by proxy, chastity and piousness too.