Because of the extent of today's oral health industry, it can be tempting to blame a few key 19th-century innovators for the concept of halitosis. However, while the idea of manufactured need is not without its merits, bad breath long preceded humanity's desire to get rid of it.
A recent article published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch moves straight to the heart of the matter. It talks about Jordan Wheat Lambert and his son, Gerard Barnes Lambert, who co-formulated and marketed Listerine around the turn of the 20th century.
The news source states that the younger Lambert got the idea to "create" halitosis - as an oral condition, anyway - when he heard that the word signified bad breath. Soon, his company was marketing their product with a slew of advertisements not implying, but baldly stating that young men and ladies with bad breath would never find mates and end up old bachelors or pathetic spinsters.
TIME even covered the release of a biography of Gerard, aptly titled The Father of Halitosis. The catch, of course, is that these men may have been marketing whizzes, but they were meeting a demand as well.
Oral odor is everywhere, and it always has been. Today, specialty breath fresheners are more effective than ever at knocking out halitosis.