Stanford Sensory Adventures: Polo Blue

Polo Blue Cologne, the fragrance for men by Ralph Lauren, was a big part of my freshman year experience at Stanford University. That year, I lived in a double in between two pairs of males and across the hall from another pair. I categorized them as the Computer Science boys, the Research boys, and the Country Club boys. They were all brilliant in their own way (especially the one neighbor who practiced intense substance abuse and killed me on every exam – so unfair). Because I recognized people by their personal smell, I harbored a distinct olfactory memory of each of them.

What was interesting about this living situation was that literally all three rooms neighboring me housed one male whose prime cologne of choice was Polo by Ralph Lauren:

  • ·         CS boy + Polo smelled like freshly cut grass.
  • ·         Research boy + Polo smelled like straight Axe.
  • ·         Country Club boy + Polo smelled like prickly spiciness.
  • ·         My ex + Polo smelled like musky laundry (weird but true).

It was shocking when this realization of Polo’s widespread prevalence in my life was made. I remember it so clearly. I was hiding another piece of fruit in CS boy’s room (long story, inside joke) when I saw the dark blue bottle peering at me. Weird, I thought, he smells nothing like my boyfriend. I then marched over to Research boy’s room to brag about my latest mischief and in the middle of my story, spotted the bottle yet again in his roommate’s shelf, perched on top of a Chemistry textbook. Super weird! Later on, I was in CC boy’s room working on the latest problem set for our engineering class when once again, the dark blue bottle of ubiquitousness made another appearance on his desk. What the whaat?

I was surrounded by the delicious cologne and completely unaware of it. How strange is it that these four people (three of which living right by me) were linked by a single cologne. Either Polo has fantastic marketing (give them a raise, Ralph!), or this is a huge coincidence. The main lesson I learned here, though, is that scents really do smell very different on different people. I never would have made the connection if I had not physically seen these bottles (and inquired about them later). Never underestimate the power of your own skin to dramatically change the nature of a scent.



About Ellen Thuy Le

Ellen Thuy Le (’13, Chemical Engineering at Stanford University) is most proud of her current role as the President of the Omicron Chapter of Sigma Psi Zeta, Inc. When she is not slaving over problem sets, she is sniffing out the latest fragrances at the Stanford Mall, writing songs on her red ukulele, jogging on campus in hopes of discovering new places, eating froyo or dreaming up new ways to design meaningful and interesting experiences for people. She is addicted to Gmail and social media, and probably spends more time reading articles every night than sleeping.