The Quest for the Odorless Fart

There’s an episode of Family Guy where Peter has liposuction, which turns him into a beautiful person. In short order, he is invited to join an exclusive club for beautiful people, and on the inaugural tour of the facilities his host hands him a bottle of pills: “Here, take these – they’ll make your bowel movements smell like bakery fresh cinnamon rolls.”

Ben Franklin addressed this speculative idea over two centuries ago – that flatus (farts) might someday be rendered innocuous by taking some manner of drug or substance:

My prize question therefore should be, To discover some drug wholesome and not disagreeable, to be mixed with our common food, or sauces, that shall render the natural discharges, of wind from our bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as Perfumes.

That this is not a chimerical Project, and altogether impossible, may appear from these considerations. That we already have some knowledge of the means capable of varying that smell. He that dines on stale flesh, especially with much addition of onions, shall be able to afford a stink that no company can tolerate; while he that has lived for some time on vegetables only, shall have that breath so pure as to be insensible to the most delicate noses; and if he manage so as to avoid the report, he may any where give vent to his griefs unnoticed….

From Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School, edited by Carl Japikse.

Well, such a product has arrived. Misanthrope and skeptic that I am, I am inclined to doubt its efficacy sight unseen waft unsmelled, but this new product called Whiff!, pushed (yes, that’s the right word) at a website with the evocative name claims that their product will render your poop and farts odorless (except in the case of avid meat-eaters, in which case the original essence of the miasma will remain, merely diminished in potency).

Whiff! comes with a price, however, beyond the “ridiculously low” $15 bottle cost:

1.) For the first week or so it may cause you to bloat and fart a lot.

2.) It turns your poop green (so does “Booberry” cereal, btw).

Of course, being an “herbal preparation,” Whiff! is immune to evaluation by the FDA, but also must label each bottle with the disclaimer: “The statements enclosed herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information mentioned on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” The author of the ad makes an effort to lessen the impact of this in a fine-print short exposition at the bottom of the page, but the song remains the same as with every other herbal product: as long as the requisite FDA disclaimer is on the bottle, it could be worthless: the FDA simply does not evaluate the efficacy of herbal products. The situation here is exactly the same as with “herbal” or “food” supplements which claim to facilitate exercise-less weight loss – and virtually all of these have been shown to be high-priced garbage. Powdered weeds, vitamins, etc.

My conclusions: Shit stinks. Farts stiink. They’ve been stinking since the dawn of life on planet earth. There may, in fact, be a sort of evolutionary imperative behind this: the gag reflex, the tendency to vomit when smelling putrid odors, or eating putrid food, is a safeguard. If it smells or tastes putrid, we’re less likely to eat it, and therefore less likely to get sick/die. Shit stinks for a reason.

Can you imagine if all shit were odorless? Out working in your garden, you might mistake a turd for a lump of soil. You might not be able to tell the difference between mud and shit and on your shiny brown shoes. That would be very bad, especially since bum-shit on the streets of America is not uncommon. Presumably, the product does not render diseased shit disease-free (that would be remarkable, indeed), so a grogan loaded up with Hep-A viruses would remain so. It just wouldn’t stink.

A further complication is that most people are expecting shit to be brown – not green. Grass is green.

Praise it

Flush This

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