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Here we offer a sample from The Garlic Press - The Best of the Press Spring/Summer 2006

Garlic Bread can be Breath of Fresh Air for Men of the Family

By Jerry Zezima - Garlic Press # 41 - page 9

The good news in our humble household these days is that I, the man in the family, have become excellent company at the dinner table and, as a result, have helped make dinner a much more pleasant experience for my wife and children. The bad news is that I have really bad breath.

And I owe it all to garlic bread. Actually, I owe it all to Dr. Alan Hirsch, and the neurologic director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, who recently discovered that the smell and taste of garlic bread has a powerful and positive influence on men.

According to the Pepperidge Farm Aroma Study, in which Hirsch used that company's frozen garlic bread to study more than 180 people in 50 families, the smell of garlic bread enhanced positive family interaction by 68.4 percent, while the taste of garlic bread increased pleasant communication by a whopping 99.4 percent.

But the most astonishing result is that garlic bread was found to be the only known aroma to have a greater positive effect on men than on women or children. Indeed, it caused the men in the study to have 96.4 percent fewer negative interactions with family members, and it virtually eliminated negative comments made by makes during dinner.

"As we head towards the millennium, maintaining family ties is a constant challenge," states a press release from Pepperidge Farm. "According to these findings, serving Pepperidge Farm Garlic Bread with a pasta dinner would clearly enhance the quality of family interactions and perhaps lead to greater satisfaction and stability in the family. So, if you want a closer-knit, happier family, maybe all you need is a little garlic bread."

As the garlic breadwinner in my family, as well as the man who comes to dinner, I was delighted. After all, I like garlic bread as well as the nest guy. Fortunately, the next guy lives in another house. So I decided to call Hirsch for some pungent comments.

"The male is usually the most dominant member of the family and also has the most negative at meals," he explained. "Men tend to be more critical of others. By sniffing or eating garlic bread, a man can develop a more positive outlook and have more pleasant interaction with family members."

Another way to have more pleasant interaction, Hirsch adds is to eliminate the man.

If you got rid of the dominant male," he said, "there would be very few negative interactions. Not that I recommend this."

A good thing, too, because judging by the way some men behaved during the study, elimination in an option many women would have probably considered.

"We visited 50 families twice each, and you'd think people would try to be more polite," Hirsch reported. "In the presence of our observers, females were more polite, but males continued to be rude. Males were either ruder all the time, or males and females were equally critical, but females were more aware of strangers in their surroundings. Maybe males are just naturally oblivious."

Whatever the reason, the smell and taste of garlic bread resulted in "a tremendous reduction in negative interaction."

"One theory is that the males were too busy stuffing their faces to say anything," said Hirsch, adding that garlic bread worked so well at dinner that families would consider having it at breakfast, too. "Though maybe not with scrambled eggs," he said.

Although Pepperidge Farm garlic bread was used in the aroma study, "it could be any brand," the good doctor noted. "You could even make it yourself."

Which is exactly what we did the other evening. While my wife made pasta, our daughter Lauren made a loaf of garlic bread. In an effort to be useful, I got out of the way.

Soon the kitchen reeked of garlic. "My," I said pleasantly, "that smells good." Nobody responded.

The interaction was even better at dinner.

"Please pass the garlic bread," I said to my daughter. She passed it. I took a piece and stuffed it into my mouth. "This is delicious'" I mumbled. Thank you," my daughter replied. "And the pasta is wonderful'" I said to my wife.

"Thanks," she said.

The conversation continued in this lively manner throughout the meal, during which I had a total of five pieces of garlic bread.

Afterward, we all smelled so bad that we avoided each other for the rest of the night. As I am sure Hirsch would agree, the family that stinks together, stays together.

JERRY ZEZIMA is a columnist at The Stanford (Conn.) Advocate


The Garlic Press is the newsletter of the Garlic Seed Foundation and has been published since 1987.

Subscription to The Garlic Press is included with membership in the Garlic Seed Foundation.

In each issue we try and cover topics on growing, eating, botany, medicine, and history laced with some culture and humor. We welcome member submissions.

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