I'm not sure how I ended up as Gizmodo UK's official Tester of Cursed Things, but apparently I am, because fresh from my ordeal with Heinz Salad Cream ice cream, I'm now the guinea pig for Lynx Africa Marmite.
Yep, that's exactly what it sounds like. Described as the "world's first social-distancing deodorant" (surely that's just wearing no deodorant?), Lynx Africa Marmite is a body spray plus the inevitable 'Gift Set from Aunty Susan' matching shower gel.
Why Lynx chose the Africa scent to add Marmite to is a complete mystery to us -- not that any of the scents in the range really lend themselves to yeasty sandwich spreads -- because the use of an ampersand (&) on the packaging means the product sounds like a particularly thick Big Brother contestant's answer to "what are the continents?":
"I'm not sure, but I fink like Africa and... Marmite?"
When we originally wrote about the eyebrow-raising product launch, we were keen to know exactly what the resulting abomination would smell like, and now we wish we could go back to those blessed days of ignorance.
It smells exactly like Lynx Africa -- aka the thick stench of the sixth form common room at an all-boys' school minus the ball sweat -- plus a sticky, yeasty, meaty undertone. So actually, not minus the ball sweat.
As ever with Marmite products, there's a crowbarred-in "love it or hate it" angle, in the sense that you're supposed to wear the spray to attract Marmite lovers (in the manner of that infamous Lynx ad) and repel the haters. Or something.
Admittedly, keeping other humans as far away as possible is even more appealing during these virusy times, but if you're already close enough to smell my body spray, you're too close.
Being a glutton for punishment, I used both products for an entire week. I was hoping that the initial wave of nausea I felt when I smelt the unholy mix would gradually subside as I became "nose-blind" to it, as you usually do to your own perfume (but not farts, for some reason).
This did not happen, possibly because the spray just seems like two layers of different smells badly mixed together. You know those fancy air fresheners that switch fragrance every couple of hours so you keep noticing them? It basically did that. I'd be smelling Lynx Africa, wondering what the guy I lost my virginity to is up to these days, when unexpectedly Marmite would take over, leaving me vaguely queasy but not at all hungry.
You see, there is absolutely nothing appetising about the smell, which is probably for the best given that aged 12, I accepted a dare to drink "ice cream flavoured" bath soak and puked bubbles for hours.
Yes, I am questioning my life choices, thank you for asking.
The other disappointing thing about the spray is that it really doesn't work very well as a deodorant. I'm not an excessive perspirer, but it has been quite a warm summer, and sweat happens. Well, more sweat definitely happened with this on than my regular roll-on.
On that front, the social distancing aspect worked quite well.
The shower gel
I thought this would be better than the spray, but it might actually be worse.
I poured the gel onto my sponge, noticing its thick, viscous brown appearance, and tried to ignore the feeling that it was actual yeast spread in a squeezy bottle. Like runny honey. Like an excessively thick cup of Bovril.
This would have felt pretty much the same, I reckon
Then the powerful pong of Africa hit me (Lynx Africa, not actual Africa, which I imagine smells substantially different) and filled the entire shower cubicle with cloying adolescent horniness, wiping away all thoughts of food. It was gross, but not sandwich spread levels of gross.
And then the Marmite came. You know the absolutely unmistakable whiff a lunchbox has when you open it up in the middle of the day? When the sandwiches have gone sweaty, the biscuits are limp with weird unidentifiable flavours, and the apple is warm to the touch? That's almost exactly what it smelt like.
I admit, I retched.
At that moment, no one on earth could have convinced my poor addled brain that I wasn't rubbing actual Marmite into my skin. It felt sticky, tarry, like it'd never wash off.
Worse, when I got out of the shower, the smell remained on my skin and wouldn't budge. When I get naked, I absolutely do not want the first thought to be "can you smell yeast?"
Lynx Africa Marmite costs £3 for either 100ml of body spray of 250ml of body wash. But more than that, it costs your confidence, appetite, and freedom from feeling like you've taken a deep sniff of a teenager's armpit.
It is horrifying. It should not exist. I'm very much a Marmite lover but this? I hate this.