The Royal Academy of Farting – Benjamin Franklin on the problem of farting

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin in 1767.

Benjamin Franklin
to The Royal Academy of Brussels
1781 (Extract)

It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.

That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.

That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.

That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.

Were it not for the odiously offensive Smell accompanying such Escapes, polite People would probably be under no more Restraint in discharging such Wind in Company, than they are in spitting, or in blowing their Noses.

My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.

There hasn’t yet been a magical Franklin drug that makes your farts smell like perfume.

There is a promising new product in France that could make farts smell like chocolate. According to Christian Poincheval, the drugs alter the scent of farts through natural food products. To get the chocolate scent, Poincheval’s pill includes cacao zest, bilberry, plant resin, vegetable coal, and seaweed.

See the full text of Benjamin Franklin’s essay here