The pervasive smell of fast food


When you’re setting the rules for a public place — like a library, airport, or train station — it makes sense to prohibit behaviors that are likely to annoy a bunch of people at once. For example, you can’t play music out loud in most venues, since everyone else can hear it and they have no easy way to avoid that inconvenience.

The rules and expectations seem well established for music. But what about smells? Occasionally, you hear about somebody being thrown off a plane because they have obscene body odor. However, BO is only one small part of the problem. The real issue lies with food — fast food to be exact.

It doesn’t matter which restaurant the food comes from. Typical fast food products like burgers, fries, and hot dogs just smell nasty — and the smell carries for dozens if not hundreds of feet from the person eating it. The problem is even worse when someone brings it into close quarters like a plane, bus or train. Basically, it turns into smell pollution.

Is there anything that venue owners and policymakers can do about this? Well, I’m sure they could take action, but they probably won’t. After all, venues depend on the fast food operators to lease concession spaces, or provide revenue through sponsorships. Perhaps someone can invent a type of food deodorant to put on the containers, to at least limit the intensity of the smells. But I won’t hold my breath on that one. Then again, with all the nasty smells out there, I might have to.