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Can’t Buy Me Lovin’

Potency in a pill: Are libido stimulants anything more than suger-coated fakery?

by Erin Pihlaja on February 9, 2012

Our great-grandparents may have enlisted the help of tomatoes, oysters or even spicy peppers to try and seduce their potential mates, but ours is a generation of convenience and instant gratification. We want our love quick and easy, and the sex industry has, well, risen, to meet those needs.

Aphrodisiacs have become a novelty item sold online, at head shops and in corner stores. They tend to tout some sort of powerful herbal supplement “guaranteed” to increase sexual desire and performance, and they claim to deliver these promised effects immediately.

“Spanish Fly” has been around for decades. At some point in its century-old history, the concoction was made from grinding up dead beetles into a powder that was ingested to produce lusty feelings. Apparently, consuming the critter caused irritation in the urinary tract and genital area that people believed mimicked the sensation of arousal. It could also cause blisters, which in those antibiotic-deficient times, could be associated with some sexually-transmitted side effects.

Today’s version can be bought for under $10. On the product’s packaging is a woman, barely dressed in stiletto heels. Her eyes are partially closed and her mouth is wide open. Behind her is a muscular man with no body hair wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. He is embracing her and his eyes are closed. He appears to be asleep.  A claim on the box says, “One taste and you’ll know why it’s a legend!”

One sip of the “Sinful Cinnamon” flavor brings back memories of Red Hots, the childhood five-and-dime candy, only a lot less fun and a lot more watery. There’s only one fluid ounce in the tiny plastic bottle, but the brown liquid takes a long time to go down.

Don’t expect much more than an irritating aftertaste from this love potion. The main ingredients are water and sugar.

Another potable on the market for those searching for a quick lust fix is a beverage called “Rock Hard Power Drink” that bills itself as a sexual energy drink. Energy plus sex? What more could an amorous and multitasking couple want from a four-inch plastic bottle?

The directions are simple: “Drink one serving, wait 5 minutes—Feel the power!” The “power” comes in six different flavors. The neon-green one is called “Lusty Lime” and tastes like Kool-Aid on steroids. In addition to water and sugar, the drink contains several herbal ingredients including horny goat weed. Rumor has it that a Chinese goat herder noticed his goats breeding like rabbits after eating this weed. At least the name sounds erotic, for goats anyway.

Chocolate has always been a Valentine’s Day favorite. Its popularity is based partially on tradition and on science as well. Phenylethylamine, found in the sweet treat, stimulates the nervous system and causes a reaction that mimics the feelings of being in love.

These sugary delectables are in practically every store around this time, but why stop at just chocolate when you can have sexual chocolate? That’s right, it’s not just a joke from the ’80s Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America anymore.

“Sex” chocolate is sold in bite-size pieces for around $2 at sex or head shops. The candy comes wrapped in black plastic adorned with fire-engine-red lip graphics. It is labeled as an “herbal aphrodisiac,” and the ingredients list does contain several herbal extracts. The main herb is ginseng, a common ingredient in energy drinks. Studies have been inconclusive, but some claim that ginseng can aid in sexual performance, specifically in helping to maintain an erection.

The “sex” chocolate tastes like the pieces from the drug-store chocolate sampler that nobody wants. They have a lab-created fruity flavor with a thick, chalky texture. There are certainly worse tasting desserts, but this might be the reason why these are sold in single serving sizes.

The portion also might have something to do with the warning printed on the label, “Warning: not more than one Sex Chocolate every 3 hours. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart or thyroid disease, or if you are pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor prior to use.”

It’s not all doom and gloom on the wrapper though. The packaging repeatedly reminds you to “Have sex tonight,” and “Have sex anywhere.” As an added public service, it also exclaims, “Please remember to treat your lover with respect and kindness always!”

Valentine’s Day is a huge cash cow for retailers and manufacturers, and sex sells all year round. If you want a manufactured aphrodisiac, there are options aplenty.

Worse come to worse, you can always pop the cork on a bottle of champagne. It’s a tried-and-true romance staple, and the results are usually pretty predictable.