That Mexican Smell

I’m doing some archival work right now (that’s fancy historian talk for sitting in a quite room and reading dusty things people haven’t read in a long time), and I came across the following. It comes from a research report on Mexican and Anglo relations in the small, agricultural town of Castroville, California. The research was done in the 1960s.

Several Anglos said that the Mexicans have a peculiar odor which is just “part of being Mexican.” One old man went so far as to say that he could “always tell a Mexican by the way they smell.” The odor was variously described as being “sticky sweet” to “sour” but those who claimed its existence were quite positive that it was peculiarly Mexican. Two school teachers agreed that their Mexican pupils smelled differently than their “white” pupils. One of the teachers, however, thought it was only the boys who smelled.

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45 Responses to That Mexican Smell

  1. Juan says:

    Time to switch the shampoo and body soap.

  2. Jakey says:

    I like the stink I give off and the ladies do too. Being Mexican is so rad, we smell and you don’t!

  3. adriana says:

    You wonder if this “smell” is something psychological with people who expect Mexicans to act, smell, be a certain way or if it has something to do with diet and maybe the quality of diet and access to hygiene products.

    One thing that I know about Mexican and Mexican American friends is that we do place a premium on self grooming and cleanliness.

  4. profe says:

    Of course, there is always a possibility that people smell. But the wholesale way in which people attribute this trait to the ENTIRE group is the indication it is a form of prejudice. These kinds of ideas are both the backbone of a racist system and its product. People rationalize the inferiority they have created.

  5. Lindsey says:

    People from Mexico totally have a distinct smell, I think it must be a spice that is popular or common maybe? The smell is warm and sweet, and homey. Odd, I know, but other people from latin america don’t have that same sweet smell

  6. sal says:

    I totally agree with this Mexican smell thread. I have smelled it my whole life. In fact, I have Mexicans in my house right now and I could smell them from outside their car, across the street, when they pulled up. It is a very distinct odor, but I feel bad admitting I can smell one group of people.

  7. juan says:

    chinguen a su madreeeee… ENGLISH: ” FUCK YOU MOTHRFUKERS”

  8. aly says:

    My roommate is mexican, and honestly, he smells because he works as a cook at a restaurant, comes home, smells like grease and sweat, doesn’t shower, and wears the same clothes over and over again because he doesn’t want to spend money on doing laundry…(just sayin’) The whole apartment stinks, so every time he leaves for work, I spray the shit out of the place with odor neutralizer.

  9. Pete says:

    It’s not about racism. For heaven’s sake.,… if I say that Mexicans are generally more brown than Caucasians, does that make me a racist, or a person with eyes? The fact is, Mexican people do give off a distinct odor. I live in the southwest, where there are tens of thousands of Mexicans, and educated or not, rich or poor, almost every Mexican I encounter gives off a very distinct odor. It’s unmistakable.

  10. Garrett says:

    Not all but the vast majority seem to have a distinctive smell.

    I use to work at Sprint and sometimes groups of them would come in and the smell around my station would be so bad it would make me want to gag.

    I have even received packages from hispanic people in the mail that have the same smell on them.

    I am not sure what it is but I am guessing it’s something they are eating?

  11. ali says:

    they stink because their bodies don’t work well because they are poor.
    they cant smell well. they cant think well. they use chemical products and foods. i live in heavily Hispanic neighborhood and it reeks of stinky laundry soap and rotten chicken. makes me gag.

  12. kim says:

    I have been in love with the same Hispanic man for a few years now. I have only smelled a distinct smell a few times. He is seems to shower a lot and brush his teeth a lot. It’s almost like he is trying to be something he is not sometimes, but anyway, the last time he was here I could smell it more than ever. It didn’t bother me, i think, because I already care for him. I often wonder if I have a sent that he isn’t fond of. Some white men that I have been w/in the past have smelled yeasty if they are not right out of hte shower.

    Smell or no smell….I LOVE my Mexican!!

  13. Braaaaaad says:

    I couldn’t believe it…. I began typing into Google “Why do Mexicans…..” and Google automagically filled in the rest for me “….. smell like laundry detergent”. How crazy!! I thought it was just me and my over active olfactory sense… BUT turns out, im not special. Mexicans REALLY DO smell like some sort of laundry product. The reason i even began this whole “quest” to figure out if Mexicans really do smell like laundry or if it was just me, was due to the fact that I could smell Mexicans that had recently passed by or walked down a hallway within the last couple of minutes without having ever seen them… just due to the smell alone. I mean, it is what it is… im sure they must use the same sort of laundry product which just happens to be VERY powerfull.

  14. chacha says:

    I am Mexican and a vegetarian. I think the smell may have to do with the “lard” that “some” Mexicans use in their cooking. The lard is pig and I am sephardic …we don’t eat pork. Some times the smell seems to be mixed with soap…after a shower. Peace to all

  15. HomeyDepot says:

    As a teen, I stocked shelves in a grocery store. Mexicans made up 75% of the customers and 99% of the purchasers of Tide Detergent. Twenty years later I can still smell a nearby Mexican before I see him. It’s Tide folks, garanteesado.

  16. mom (in-law) says:

    I couldn’t believe I actually found this comment on the internet. I thought I’d just try it for the heck of it. I have wondered for years what that smell is and wondered if it was only me that could smell it. This is not a derogatory remark. It is not an insult. It is a fact that they emit a sweet, strong, sticky like smell. I have wondered if it is a grooming product. Not all Mexicans smell like this, but most of them do.

  17. ole factory says:

    I smell it constantly when Mexicans are around, not all and it doesn’t have to do with cleanliness. It smells to me like a peculiar hair gel or body soap or something similar. It is a very distinctive pungent smell and is always present with a group of Mexicans, but not always with an individual.
    I have often smelled it strongly when Mexicans appear to have recently showered (still have wet hair). Sometimes it appears when the males look like they have dressed their hair with some shiny substance.

  18. It’s not racist. I can tell a mexican blindfolded by the smell.

  19. Z says:

    Yeah the smell is very distinct it’s a smell of corn flour and cheap fabric softener

  20. electricguru says:

    I don’t know what mexicans you people are talking about, and no they don’t deserve a capital letter in front of their nationality. They don’t even have their own language. I have very close friends from Spain, and they can’t understand the so called Spanish, but purely mexican gibberish. mexicans smell like soured asshole. They are the ones that throw toilet paper in the floor, with shit on it, at every industrial manufacturing facility I have ever worked. Some would even finger paint with their shit on the bathroom walls. I’m not sure if they were finger painting, or using a turd like a piece of chalk. I have seen more than 50 of the nasty bastards fired for it. Not all Latinos have these nasty attributes, I hope, but mexicans just plain stink. They are filthy. I haven’t been around even one that doesn’t make you turn away, with your eyes watering in disgusting stench. They have immoral habits. Oh, did I mention, they STINK! They are some of the worse lowlife scum on this planet. I’m not racist. I have plenty of Spanish, Black, Indian, White, German, Swiss, French, Russian, etc. as some of my very best friends. They do not smell of the nasty stench as every mexican I have ever had to be in close contact with. Mexicans stink like nasty, filthy, soured asshole! Mexicaca should be their names.

  21. eric johnson says:

    For the past ten years I have worked around a lot of Mexicans, both legally and illegally within the U.S. I have become very aware of that strong odor that is we have all noticed when in the presence of many Mexicans. I was told it was due to the use of moth balls with their laundry, as it is needed in Mexico. During a recent trip to Mexico, we had our laundry done there. Our clothes came back with that Mexican smell. It’s in the laundry and has nothing to do with the people!

  22. Jeffrey Phillips says:

    Mexicans smell like failure. They’re nation is in shambles, as are most latin american nations. Mexicans don’t build Seattle steel, Ford motor company, or Apple. Mexicans turn down your bed, mow your lawn, sniff your butt, and lick your ass ask if you ask. Mexicans can’t run Mexico and most Latino’s follow suit. Third world nations pretending to have pride!

  23. 7diogenes13 says:

    Slavery destroys people. Any group of people, both the slaves and the slavers. I see angry people venting on whole groups of individuals here, without realizing they are pointing a weapon at themselves. There are a lot of physical conditions that can cause odor. Diabetes is one that is prevalent in modern society, as is blaming the victim until the victim is an easy tool for stone throwers. These days we are all living in glass houses. Most of these comments are adding fuel to a fire that can’t be put out. The angry commenter that is proud to be so multi-cultural should look up the real history of Spanish exploration in the new world.

    This phrase was used at a state fair in Minnesota with no mexicans present, only a black couple, and white people. It was obviously used to cause hate. Nobody there stank. Trolls exhist in all environments.

  24. angii says:

    White people smell like whiskey and corn bread.. lmao.. I’m Mexican American and Fucking proud of it..

  25. HomeyDepot says:

    I have changed my mind, I no longer think it’s Tide detergent. As a truck driver I, too have visited many warehouses and factories wherein the mostly Mexican employees routinely cover the floors and walls and garbage cans with their feces and dirty toilet paper. Plumbing in Mexico cannot withstand the pressure of toilet paper when mixed with bowel movements, so the entire population knows to throw their TP in the trash. They enter our country and practice their old habits. More than once have I gone to use the facilities and walked in guys talking face to face whilst one of them is taking a shit. They have a peculiar and friendly relationship with crap, unlike any other race. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  26. bitch plz says:

    this shit is racis

  27. Vale says:

    Ali, if you say we’re poor “and we don’t work because of that”, which makes no sense at all, and you live in the SAME neighborhood as many Hispanics, then I think that makes you poor as well; therefore, you “don’t work well”… Everyone has a different smell because of their diet; I’m pretty sure they, and many other people over the world with different customs, don’t like your smell either so stop judging and being disrespectful. You don’t know what you smell like since you are so used to it; just like Asians are used to the smell of garlic and we are used to our smell. It’s called different customs and culture. ¡Qué ignorantes son por Dios!

  28. L A says:

    Yes, it’s a really nice odor. Sticky-sweet and clean smelling. I noticed it on a native american once too. Males & females can have it. Some Hispanics do, many do not. Probably if you’re of the same race it’s undetectable. I’ve read undesirable descriptions of whites by asiana, as well.

  29. Kristen says:

    I don’t believe Mexicans smell at all……In addition, whoever posted some irrelevant things not geared towards the ACTUAL purpose of this thread…is quite ignorant. It’s a cultural thing that can’t be changed. I would even argue that Mexicans (and Hispanics in general) smell pretty good (I agree with the laundry post).

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  31. poco estacada says:

    Ey puto its not all of us hispanics who wreek its just some vatos smell like kakka cuz they don’t shower. And latinas all smell heavenly from head to toe especially their sweet sweet pinochés. You feel me mijo

  32. JONNY says:

    SUAVITEL IS A CHEAP TOXIC FABRIC SOFTNER THAT THE SPICS ADORE.

  33. Jersey says:

    I can’t believe I found this site. Hate to say it, but it is true. Every Mexican person I meet – well, I can smell them coming and going. It is that sweet, sick smell. Always wondered if it was a cologne, or clothes detergent. All I can say is, most Mexican people I have met are good people and hard workers. But, dear God, I can’t be next to that smell. Makes me throw up.

  34. Darious Flagge says:

    From what I notice it is from a popular laundry additive. Perhaps fabric softener. When I used the laundromat specifically frequented by mexicans, my clothes get the same smell.

  35. Jersey says:

    Figured it had to be detergent or fabric softener because it affects men, women and children. Thanks. I still respect/like Mexican people and LOVE Mexican food!

  36. L A says:

    I find that fewer than half of hispanics have the smell. I wish they all did-I love it. It saddens me to hear someone say it makes them want to throw up. A hispanic person will read that and be encouraged to dream up their own negative stereotypes about whites and other races. And so it goes.

  37. Jersey says:

    I’m sorry. I understand what you are saying. But, that smell affects me in a physically negative way. I have never said that to anyone’s face. I would never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Guess I should choose my words more carefully. :)

  38. Richard says:

    To sat that Hispanics don’t have an inherent scent would be a lie. All races have a discernable odor that like kinds can’t necesarily distinguish. White folks are downright funky after being out in the sun.

  39. jane says:

    WOW, this is cruel and hurtful, I’m shocked that there is so much hate for my people. I guess I’ve been living in a LA bubble. Nice to know next time one of you mistakes me for white I’m gonna say I could never be so cruel please don’t disrespect me in that manner. Does that mean I don’t smell? God must be proud of you!!! No wonder no one can truly trust a white person, never know what there really thinking.

  40. L.A. says:

    Jane, please see my comments from Jan. 30 and April 15 above. I am a white person. One must be careful not to generalize- yourself included.

  41. Well I’m Mexican and yes I noticed how my family always smells different. They cook all the time, and use tons of cleaning products. Me? I’m vegan and I don’t even eat much. I’m not a regular cleaner, I don’t really have to clean all the time because it’s just me. It has to do with the regular food they cook and eat, and the humidity of extra cleaning. They really love cleaning (Mexican women atleast) (that’s why they say they would make good slaves if slavery would still be legally going) (and they make good house servants) I always heard people say that Mexicans always smell like there food. Or they ask me “Why do Mexicans always smell like there food?” Because most of them don’t eat well. The majority of them are poor and eat what poor people eat. Rich Mexicans have a better food option though and they have maids so the maids are the ones that stick with the smell.

  42. Oh and not to mention the candels that they use for their religious alters. Those give of a strong odor too!!

  43. truthbetold2014 says:

    This is the most racist and pathetic bunch of lies I have ever heard of. Smell has nothing to do with race at all, it has everything to do with the person. I’ve been with girls of all races and let me tell ya, they are all the same. This is the typical stereotyping that people in the US makes up just to cause division. If anyone falls for this bullshit, then they are just stupid and gullible. It’s like saying all black guys have 14 inch dicks. We all know that is only true in the fake world of porn. We are all the same. The human body is made up of the exact same things. Yes females odor is a lot different than males, but that is just a given. I have a foot fetish, and I have smelled girls feet from different races, and they all small the same. When I go down on a girl, they all smell the same down there DELICIOUS. I come from a very mixed family, and no one has a distinct smell. This is so stupid. I can not believe I even clicked on this bullshit. Racist people will make up anything to make one race seem so different than the rest. DUMB ASSES

  44. FIRST of all for all you freaks going back and forth, there is only ONE race and that is the HUMAN race. I am partially Mexican and Partially English with some American Indian mixed in. What you are referring to is called cultural prejudices. I have known a few Mexicans intimately as friends and at least two of them have presented these distinct overpowering odors.

    Second of all, as a scientist, I am very interested in discovering the cause of this overpowering smell. I have a Mexican lady friend who I am considering courting and a couple of times out of the say 100 times we have met, I have noticed this odor. I want to know if it can be eliminated as it is so overwhelmingly repugnant that I could not stand to be around her or any person who smelled that way for long.

    So far I have heard 3 repeated theories:

    * Food – most popular theory.
    * Cleaning products – second most popular.
    * Uncleanliness – third.

    In my experiments with these two Mexican friends of mine, their odors have not been consistently offensive. In fact, the smell is either present and VERY strong, or non existent.

    Food product seems to be the most logical to me. My ex wife used to say I smelled after eating Chorizo or Italian Pepperonis. This would fit into the food theory.

    If it is the cleaning products then it is definitely not Tide or Suavitel as that is something that would be used consistently, and as stated this is not the case in my experiments. That leaves temporary products like say hair gel or some sort of musk product meant to attract.

    Uncleanliness is highly unlikely as she is an overly clean conscious woman, although the day I smelled it really bad she had been sweating, perhaps it is a combination of perspiration and food product.

    I would like to involve her in my experiments but I am concerned that she may become offended, also she speaks very little English and my Spanish is broken at best so the data has a high chance of being corrupted.

    Please, if you have more information or if you have conducted experiments of your own email me or comment below so that I can collect more information on this phenomenon.

    Thank you.

  45. L.A. says:

    Revelation Knight,

    Sorry to break it to you- people with a sensitive sense of smell can detect a characteristic smell in some individuals of different races (not only hispanics). This is not meant to be offensive. People from different places look differently, sometimes sound differently, and yes, it’s within the realm of possibility- smell differently. I don’t think it’s anything as superficial as cleaning products (!), but rather, is biological. As a white person, I’ve read we can have a certain smell, and it’s not described as pleasant.

    For my part, I find the “Mexican smell” very attractive. You, however, described it as “overpowering” and “repugnant.” Now who sounds culturally offensive?

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