In the photo above, Brandon is holding his copy of Stink and the World’s Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers (the third book in a popular series spun off from the also-popular Judy Moody books, both from author Megan McDonald) … and a roll of Trebor EXTRA STRONG peppermints.
At one point in the story, while riding in a car with his two best friends, the main character rattles off a series of odor-related factoids — including a claim that
Smelling peppermint makes you brainier.
As it turns out, no peer-reviewed scientific study seems yet to have proven a link between the smell of peppermint oil and the beneficial effects being touted by aromatherapists — improvements in one’s concentration and the ability to put sustained effort into one’s work. A University of Cincinnati study conducted by a (now-deceased) Professor William N. Dember is sometimes referenced in support of such claims but, though he indeed seems to have been studying peppermint’s effect on the mind, no peer-reviewed studies seem to have been published in any major medical journals regarding this research.
Interestingly enough, at least one US school principal has attempted to harness the as-yet-unproven power of peppermint to improve her students’ standardized test scores. She distributed peppermint candies, like the Trebor mints, to students at her school in 2007 ahead of statewide standardized tests. A Washington Post story, The Power of Peppermint Is Put to the Test dating from around the same time as the NPR report has more information, including quotes from a colleague of Dr. Dember and hints that some other schools are also handing out peppermints to their students from time to time.