In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, hopeful Oberon instructs Puck to place pansies on Titania’s eyes to make her fall madly in love with him. “The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid/ will make man or woman madly dote/ upon the next live creature that it sees,” Shakespeare wrote, but Oberon’s plan fails and poor Titania falls in love with Bottom instead. Though Shakespeare is credited with inventing this love potion, many love-struck hopefuls around the world have used heaps of other elixirs–from common vegetables to tree bark and herbs–to try and woo the opposite sex.
- When mixed with herbs, the eggs of Uganda’s gray crowned crane–a bird that mates for life–are said to increase affection and monogamy.
- In Africa, the bark of the yohimbe tree is said to have certain aphrodisiac qualities when steeped in hot water and consumed as tea.
- Rum, honey, and red wine are mixed with tree bark and herbs to create mama juana, an aphrodisiac for men and women of the Dominican Republic.
- The people of Madura Island in East Java are known for their jamu ramuan, a concoction of herbs that, when ingested, restores youth to women and makes them more desirable to their husbands.
- On Dragobete day, the Romanian day of love, frozen snow is collected and its water used as a magic potion by young girls. The water is said to ward off illness for the rest of the year.
- The Lappish Love Potion in Finland is an alcoholic brew made from blueberries instead of yeast.
- Chocolate–used by the Aztecs as an aphrodisiac–has high levels of serotonin and Phenylethylamine, mood-lifting agents found in the human brain that increase energy and produce certain euphoric effects.
- Eat your veggies: In the 19th century, asparagus–known for its aphrodisiac qualities–was served to grooms before their wedding night; in ancient Greece, carrots were consumed by both men and women to make them more desirable to each other.