Sniffing worn t-shirts to find a date

Finding a date based on scent chemistry is the goal of a new trend in dating mixers, called “pheremone parties.” The party starts like any other where singles turn up for drinks and chit chat, hoping to meet someone special. The catch is that each person must bring a bagged t-shirt he or she has worn to bed for three nights in a row. Then if a conversation turns compelling, a partygoer can screen for chemistry before making physical contact. The Colbert Report sums it up this way: sniffing worn t-shirts to find a date.

But the term “pheremones” is misleading, since what people are sniffing in the t-shirts are residues of blood chemistry proteins known as the major histocompatability complex or MHC. The group organizing the smelly t-shirt parties further clarifies on their website the scent as an “odor print” and details how to prepare a t-shirt for a party, including not using fragranced products or eating heavily spiced foods during the 3-day period  (located at ). They also recommend avoid intimate contact with another person while wearing the odor print t-shirt. No sexing up the shirt before the party.

It’s not clear how successful odor parties are at matching people compared to any other method of dating. The parties are still new with the first one  happening in 2012 in Los Angeles. However, using odor print t-shirts to gauge chemistry between two people has been around for decades. Scientists have long been using sweaty t-shirts as the basis of research on the subject.

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