15 Crazy Facts About Kissing
By Alexandra Churchill
From its health benefits to its origin, here are some jaw-dropping facts about puckering up.
Puckering up. Smooching. Snogging. Lip-locking. Tongue-wrestling. Rounding first base. Sucking-face (ahh, gotta love '90s lingo). Whatever you call it, kissing is one of our favorite parts about falling in love.
We've already given you the scoop on what the ladies really think of kissing and dished on the secret health benefits to kissing. Now, we're taking it one step further with an impressive list of eyebrow-raising facts about smacking lips. Consider it your introductory Philematology 101 class (which, you'll come to find out is the scholarly study of kissing).
1. Your Kissing Style Originates In The Womb.
See a kiss in any Hollywood movie, painting or sculpture and more often than not, you'll seecouples leaning in to the right. Why is that? A German researcher observed over 100 couples and noted that two-thirds of them tilted their heads to the right. The scientific community at large theorizes that this instinct originates from the womb when we naturally tilted our heads to the right.
2. Kissing Means Serious Muscle Power.
One kiss requires the coordination of 146 muscles, including 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles. A team of British researchers: Elaine Sassoon, Annabelle Dytham, Robert Scully and Prof Gus McGrouther from the Rayne Institute in University College, London, studied kissing couples under an MRI scanner and found that a kiss mostly involves the orbicularis oris (the muscle around your mouth). "Not only do you use your facial muscles in kissing, but approximately 112 postural muscles as well," Professor McGrouther said to The Telegraph. Sounds like a serious workout for your face!
3. Our Love Of Kissing Comes From ... Rats?
Kazushige Touhara and colleagues at the University of Tokyo believe that our affinity for kisses descends from an ancient rat. Mice and men have a surprisingly similar genetic makeup and share a common ancestor that lived sometime between 75 and 125 million years ago. This ancient rat-like creature was called Eomaia scansoria (Eomaia, Greek for "ancient mother" and scansoria, Latin for "climber"). The science team theorizes that this creature would rub noses with a mate to sample his or her pheromones and signal desire. So basically, human kissing is really rodent behavior. Who knew?
4. The History Of "X" Behind XOXO Traces Back To The Middle Ages.
We use "XOXO" as an affectionate afterthought to our signature all the time in cards and love letters, but not many people know its origin story. Historians trace it back in the Middle Ages when most people couldn't read or write. The peasants used to mark "X" as a stand-in signature and then kissed the document as an added gesture of sincerity.
5. A King Once Decreed That Kissing Be Outlawed.
On July 16, 1439, King Henry VI banned kissing in England. (I know, seriously, what a buzzkill.) His reasoning? It was to curtail the spread of disease in the kingdom. It should be noted though, that his mental breakdown around 1453 required his wife, Margaret of Anjou, to assume control of his kingdom. (So that's the level of crazy we were dealing with at this time.) This went on to spur a lot of other weird smooching bans all over the world. Later in 16th century Naples, kissing in public was banned and punishable by death.
6. French Kissers Caused Commuter Headaches.
Oh, the French. Apparently in the early 20th century, so many French commuters were getting frisky on the train that they had to ban kissing altogether. So whenever you feel the train slow to a stop and hear the conductor's drone voice call out over the intercom that the train has stopped "due to a sick passenger aboard the train ahead" ... you might have an idea of what's up.
7. The Luck Of The Irish Comes With A Kiss.
Call it the (germ-infested) luck o' the Irish. Over 400,000 tourists gather to kiss the Blarney Stone near Cork, Ireland, every year — dubbing it the most "unhygienic" tourist attraction in the world. According to local legend, those who bend over backwards to kiss the stone are rewarded with "the gift of the gab" — essentially, meaning flattery. So if you're looking to be a sweet talker, you might want to take a trip to Blarney Castle. But be warned! It's been said that people have fallen to their deaths attempting the superstitious feat.
8. We Almost Didn't Have Epic Movie Kisses!
Titanic. Casablanca. Gone With The Wind. Spiderman. Some of the greatest kisses in Hollywood history almost never happened. Why? Back in 1930, a a set of censorship regulations called the Hays Code prohibited acting couples from kissing in a horizontal position (as in, lying down). Also, married couples had to sleep in twin beds on screen and if kissing action did happen on beds, one actor had to have their foot on the ground. Oh yeah, and they couldn't kiss for longer than three seconds. Not exactly the picture of romance, right? Well, directors had a way around this. While filming the 1946 film Notorious, Alfred Hitchcock had Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant repeatedly kiss, briefly disrupted by dialogue and movement. It's now considered one of the sexiest movie scenes of the time. Luckily, this pain of a ban dropped in the late sixties.
9. People Make Careers Out Of The Science Of Kissing.
Just in case you were so into kissing you wanted to make a career out of it, the study of kissing itself is called philematology. And someone who studies kissing is called an osculologist. (That sounds like a cheesy bro T-shirt.)
10. This Couple's Record-Breaking Kiss Is Incredible.
According to the Guinness World Records, the record for the longest-lasting kiss goes to Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat of Thailand. These champion smoochers locked lips for 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds. (No word on if they got bathroom breaks, but we're thinking that would have been a mood-killer.)
11. Kissing Saves Lives.
If your man isn't big on PDA, this might convince him otherwise. A famous study once determined that men who get a peck on the cheek from their wives before heading out to work lived five years longer than men who didn't. (We want a followup on this to see if the same is true for working wives! Lady breadwinners, can I get a hell yeah?)
12. The Italians Are Expert Kissers ... Everyone Else? Not So Much.
C'mon guys, this is a depressing statistic. According to The Normal Bar, only a little over half of the world's lovers kiss passionately? Take notes from the Italians! They know their romance.
13. The Average Person Spends Two Weeks Of His Or Her Life Kissing.
Experts estimate that the average person will spend 20,160 minutes of his or her lifetime kissing. In other words, that's your senior spring break in college. So what happens in Cabo becomes a statistic.
14. Looking For The One? Kiss This Many Guys ...
That's a whole lot o' frogs to find your prince. But that's the price of true love, right? A British study commissioned by eHarmony to release with The Rose Project tracked the number of dates, breakups and one night stands it takes for men and women to find lasting love — and kisses weren't left out of the equation. It determined that it takes 15 kisses for women and 16 for men.
15. Kissing Has Amazing Health Benefits!
Making out with your partner is just what the doctor perscribes. Kissing burns calories (about 2-3 per minute, to be exact), strengthens your immune system, relieves aches and pains, and prevents cavities! I mean, who knew how healthy swapping spit could be?