The 12 Weirdest Perfume Scents, Because You Never Know When You'll Need To Smell Like Crayons

Even if you're the kind of person who turns away from perfume counters in disgust, it turns out smell may be ruling your life anyway. According to a study in Science in 2013, humans can theoretically distinguish between a trillion different scents. (I am writing this with a cold, so that seems impossible, but it's apparently true.) Scent is powerfully tied to our memory, too; olfactory memory, or recalling something because of a stray smell, is actually a pretty strong and emotive part of our brain function. Perfume's got a hold on us, for better or worse — but some perfume makers are taking that to the extreme and creating the weirdest perfume scents out there.

Avant garde perfume might not have much of a market share — scientists at the University of Bern found out that women actually prefer perfume that, however subtly, reminds them of their own natural scent — but it's certainly bloomed. Now that every celeb has a signature scent, brands want to get in on the act too: you can buy a Bentley perfume, and for a short while Americans could pick up Eau De Pizza Hut and tantalize their mate with the smell of freshly baked pizza dough.

But have you ever wanted to smell of something outlandish, like, say, distilled money, or a farm, or the Plagues of Egypt? If so, this is the scent library for you. Forget alluring: these 13 perfumes are for people who rejoice in others sniffing the air and saying "What IS that smell?!"

"New Macbook" By Air Aroma

As perfume art projects go, trying to capture the scent of a new Apple product is the best I’ve heard in ages. Wear it at a Comic Con or tech convention and people will be sidling up to you for your number all day. That’s precisely what perfume company Air Aroma and a collective of Australian artists did for an installation in 2012.

According to Air Aroma, the perfume includes “the smell of the plastic wrap covering the box, printed ink on the cardboard, the smell of paper and plastic components within the box and of course the aluminum laptop.” Materialistic sexiness in a bottle? Hell yes.

Image: Air Aroma.

"Pope Francis" By Excelsis

Want to know what the Pope smells like? Me neither — though I can guess this one probably smells mostly of soap. The folks at Excelsis, however, thought that sounded boring, and have made a Pope Francis-themed “signature scent” (which, considering Francis’s non-materialistic tendencies, I doubt he’d wear in a million years, but hey).

Excelsis say it’s an “engaging, fresh” fragrance; the Huffington Post test-drove it and said it reeked stronger than Indian food. The previous Pope, Benedict, had an Italian fragrance-maker concoct him his own perfume, but he also loved Louboutin shoes, so perhaps mortification of the flesh wasn’t exactly his bag.

Image: Excelsis.

"Beatrix Potter" By Sweet Tea Apothecary

There are many perfumes out there “inspired” by famous figures, from the current (Jennifer Lopez) to the historical (Jack Kerouac, anybody?) But one takes the cake — specifically the carrot cake, if you’re going to get pedantic. Sweet Tea Apothecary produces a Beatrix Potter-inspired perfume, for all those days you want to smell as if you’ve narrowly escaped death at the hands of a justifiably angry English farmer.

Image: Sweet Tea Apothecary

Your Blood Type, By Blood Concept

If you’ve ever thought for more than several seconds about your blood “type” — which is classified by the weird mix of antigens on your red blood cells — you’ll recognize that it’s both weird and kind of amazing. First there was the blood type diet, and now there’s a perfume that comes in O, A, B or AB. It’s by Blood Concept, and doesn’t actually involve slathering yourself in the red stuff. I think.

Blood Concept say that their blood-type perfumes are “a private celebration of the vivid and fascinating liquid that flows in our veins” — and are frustratingly opaque about what goes into them.

Image: Blood Concept

The Circus

Circuses are certainly aromatic paradises — the smell of sawdust, candy floss and animal cruelty — but they don’t pop into the head immediately somebody says “perfume material.. But perhaps we’re just behind the curve, because not one but two fragrances claim to evoke the real essence of the circus.

One, Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur, is a more traditionally circus-type smell (leather, sawdust, sugar), while Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s version is inspired by the mouse circus in Neil Gaiman’s book Coraline, and so is a little more specific, blending popcorn, vanilla, and woody scents. Which one would rock your big top?

Image: Dzing

The Plagues Of Egypt, By Black Phoenix Alchemy

Another of Black Phoenix Alchemy’s creations isn’t just one perfume, but a whole set, inspired by the Biblical Plagues of Egypt. (If you’re not so hot on your Bible knowledge, they’re what God sent to Egypt when the Pharaoh refused to release Moses’s people out of servitude. Plagues of locusts, rivers of blood, that sort of thing.)

The plague of frogs sounds particularly charming: it contains “amphibious green musk with bog moss, benzoin, Mountain sage, Brazilian vetiver, tomato leaf, cucumber pulp, and unripe squash.” None of this vague nonsense for Black Phoenix; they do “go literal or go home.”

Image: Black Phoenix

"Crayon," By Demeter

If you’re the kind of person who refuses to let go of childhood, Demeter Fragrances are probably for you. They’ve got some flak for trying to distill the “pure” essences of smells like linen, lobster, and falling snow, but their childhood scents are the weirdest — and seriously packing a nostalgia punch.

They’ve got a crayon one in case you ever chowed down on a variety from your sister’s Crayola box, and a special Play-Doh edition for those creative toddler sculptors. Childhood never smelt so… well, good is an exaggeration.

Image: Demeter Fragrances

"Room 237" By Bruno Fazzolari

Like your perfume to remind you of abject terror? Well, the Room 237 perfume from Bruno Fazzolari is a heart-stopper for every Christmas stocking. Possibly literally. It’s directly inspired by the most sinister room in the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson.

Want to know what horror in a bottle smells like? Apparently, angelica, flea bane, and tarragon. In case you wanted to make a bath bomb to match.

Image: Room 237.

"Odeur 53" By Comme des Garcons

Comme des Garcons have a history of producing some fairly epically wacky scents (there was one that “smelled like gold,” for instance), but their Odeur 53 is as bizarre as it gets: it’s deliberately meant to smell like man-made, well, everything.

It’s a celebration of human invention and industry, and incorporates the smell of chemical burn, oxygen, drying cotton, nail polish, and burnt rubber. At least you’ll stand out from all the florals.

Image: Comme des Garcons.

"Eau de Polder" By L’Essence de Mastenbroek

A polder is a low-lying, flat bit of land marooned by watery dikes in the Netherlands. If you’ve never smelt one, and I suspect it’s probably quite a rare experience for non-polder dwellers, well, now you can: L’Essence de Mastenbroek have kindly released a perfume that evokes Eau de Polder.

“What does it smell of?” I hear you cry in unison. Hay, grass, and earth, mostly, with a bunch of wildflowers thrown in. No mud, surprisingly enough.

Image: L’Essence de Mastenbroek.

Liquid Money

Liquid Money is nothing if not up-front: it smells like money. Period. “Define your success by smelling like it” is the brand slogan. The founder, who’s also VP of Sales at Microsoft, came up with it based around studies that workers become more productive when they smell money, and it’s infused with cotton, silk, ink, and linen.

The added bonus of the marketing? It comes in a shopping bag filled with shredded American currency. In case you want to display your decadence and horrify everybody except the Rich Kids Of Instagram.

Image: Liquid Money.

"Molecule 01" By Escentic Molecules

Escentic Molecules has produced a perfume for science nerds and perfume aficionados alike: it’s made of an “aroma chemical,” Molecule 01, instead of an actual scent. Molecule 01 is included in many modern perfumes as an ingredient, and reacts with whatever it encounters — which means that, while you may not be able to smell a thing, everybody else will smell it reacting with your body scent and wonder what on earth you’ve got on. It’s all about the “science of scent” — which is far cooler than slathering on bacon perfume, if you ask me.

Image: Molecule 01.