I am learning the ropes re editing during and post-production. Below is the full version of my most recent article for Men’s Health. A rather edited version appeared on 2/9/15.

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“Does Sex Get Hotter With Lube That Makes Your Junk Taste Like Caramel Ice Cream?”

Some lubes now come in a variety of flavors. But does the thought of mocha java sex make you hungry or horny?

Vanilla bean, candy apple, passion pear, and strawberry…

No, these are not dessert toppings and they’re definitely not air fresheners for your car – they’re flavors of lube.

But why? Why complicate further something that’s already pretty complex. In spite of its occasionally necessary dimensions, lube is all kinds of fun, but sometimes I wonder: water-based for everyday, silicone for the shower and NOT for use with most toys, and thick jelly sorts for when you want your lubricant to… err… stay put. Why add flavors on top of all that? I had to find out.

I got on the line with Lucy Vonne, Sales and Education Training Coordinator for Evolved Novelties. Lucy told me something fascinating about one of her affiliated product lines, ZT Toys: all their flavored lubes come in spray form.

“‘Oral Sex Candy’ [which comes in flavors like watermelon, strawberry, and passion pear] is for people who may be tentative about blowjobs,” Lucy said. “It’s a fun product, and the light mist gives people a little bit of flavor without getting it all over the place.”

I found this really interesting. The “taste” of oral sex (read: balls) is one thing that often gets tossed around as a deterrent, and perhaps a quick spritz is all some people need to indulge in this manner.

Now I was on a mission – because there were plenty more flavors out there. I popped into the office of Carrie Smith, Director of Product Development for Wicked Sensual Care. According to Carrie, flavored lubes are actually all about indulgence. “Flavors enhance the sensory experience of sex by adding in the taste dimension. You actually want to get in another lick, which is really what your partner wants out the oral play experience. Everybody wins.”

But salted caramel? And mocha java? These are real flavors in the Wicked Sensual Care line. Seriously, I could just eat actual food.

“People like mocha java for ‘breakfast in bed,’” Carrie joked, “But salted caramel is hands down our top-seller – more so than candy apple or even vanilla.”

I was skeptical. No way people want salted caramel more than something as simple and obviously awesome as tried-and-true vanilla.

Carrie reached out and pumped a little squirt from a bottle that looked far too sexy-fancy to be lube onto the back of my hand. “Taste it,” she instructed. I took a tentative lick – delicious! But I was immediately concerned: what would dispensing something that smelled and tasted exactly like dessert do to my lady parts?

“I always say ‘Vaginas don’t digest, so there’s no need to worry,’ but here’s a little bit of chemistry,” Carrie warned. “When glycerin, which is an important ingredient in most water-based flavored lubes, is broken down, it turns into a glycol [sugar] molecule, and sugars may cause problems in damp enclosed areas of the body.”

But as Carrie had already indicated, glycerin molecules aren’t broken down in vaginas, or in other related damp enclosed areas of the body.

She continued: “Our flavors are sweetened with Stevia, which is non-fermentable so it doesn’t feed yeast, and yeast is where problems can arise. If someone is prone to yeast infections, I’d suggest not using a glycerin-based lube ever, flavors aside. But absent smelling delicious, for most people, a flavored lube isn’t going to do anything but enhance a sexual experience.”

I was back to licking my hand as Carrie was talking, tasting all the lubes she’d lined up on her desk, when something else dawned on me: what was up with all these ingenious bottles? I spend a lot of time looking at sex stuff, including sex-related products, and these bottles were pretty atypical. They didn’t look like the therapeutic or medical-seeming products you often see in your local drugstore, nor did they look like a cute “wellness”-type item. They also weren’t raunchy or cheesy.

“There are a lot of different choices when it comes to lube,” Carrie said. “The sexiness and subtlety of our packaging gets at an indulgent spa experience. They’re for people who are ready to do some sexual exploring, but don’t want their lube to look out of place when a houseguest starts snooping in the medicine cabinet. They blend right in with other health and beauty products.”

This was a lot to think about. Because not only was Carrie correct about the blending in, she was right about the subtlety. The Wicked Sensual Care line seemed like a good choice for parents concerned about their interloping eight-year-old finding a bottle of “cock slick” (or whatever) leftover from the night before.

Lucy echoed this sentiment – different looks appeal to different people and needs. She’d sent me some images of Oral Sex Candy, and they were decidedly different from Carrie’s lubes. But this made perfect sense as it seemed like their customers were decidedly different as well. “ZT is a very ‘male’ line, so we play to our audience, but we also have to appeal to the ladies they bring it home to. We try to find a fun balance,” Lucy said.

Science tells us that women and men react differently to different sorts of smells. For example, according to the Social Issues Research Centre’s Smell Report, “Women’s sensitivity to musk, an ingredient commonly used in perfumes, is 1000 times greater than men’s. ‘Sexy’ perfumes containing musk are therefore much more likely to arouse the woman wearing them than any potential male partners. But by making a woman feel more sensual, the perfume may affect her behaviour and thus indirectly increase her attractiveness.” Since smell and taste are closely intertwined, it stands to reason that some flavored lubes will impact women’s and men’s sexy feelings in a similarly different manner.

It’s possible then that when a woman puts caramel flavored/scented lube on her partner’s parts, if her partner is a guy, it’s actually not really changing the way he responds to her sexually. Maybe she’s turning herself on instead. After taking a look at two very different lines of lube, one marketed to men in primarily fruit flavors and one caramel-heavy example marketed to women and couples, the gendered tendencies seem obvious. So I guess the next question to think about is are you trying to turn yourself on, or your partner?

All this was shot to hell though when I asked a friend to try out a sample of random fruit flavored lube. Do guys really like those flavors more? On the basis of my sample of one, the answer is no. Paul, who’s in his early 40s, said just the smell made him feel sticky, which distracted him from what should have been a mind-blowing task at hand.

I’m not necessarily sold on the idea of flavored lubes, but I can definitely see there’s something there. Like all things related to sex, preferences are widely varied, and you also never know ‘til ya try. In that spirit, Carrie gave me a bottle of lube for the road. I’m not gonna tell you which flavor I selected, but I will tell you I broadened my horizons past vanilla.

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pictured: sex and ice cream, image via Men’s Health

Reprinted from MensHealth.com (2/9/15)

And ICYMI, you can read all my work featured on Men’s Health dot com right –> here

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