Eureka! Great Discoveries In Kissing Research

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | September 25, 2009 6:03 pm

Over the past many months, I’ve been sifting through every source imaginable on kissing. I’ve read papers on anthropology and dentistry, spoken to neuroscientists and classicists, and searched through many pop culture references as well. It’s been fascinating and fun, but one peculiar ‘trivia fact‘ I kept coming across bothered me:

Kissing for one minute burns 26 calories.’

Preposterous of course, but I couldn’t help wonder why ’26’ was popping up everywhere. It seemed so random. Obviously this is not in the book, but I was increasingly curious as to how and where the rumor got started.

Today I finally solved the mystery:

hershey's kiss


Comments (7)

Links to this Post

  1. An exercise in fact-checking « Science in the Triangle | January 17, 2010
  1. Linda

    Great brainstorming to finally solve the mystery.

  2. Marion Delgado

    Chris and Sheril, for some reason when I saw this I thought it was perfect commentary on the communication process, and I thought of the Intersection among other places:

  3. Erasmussimo

    Hmm, this sounds very much like a semantic analogue of zoonotic processes. It appears that the number jumped across the semantic divide inside somebody’s mind and infected the verb-meaning of the term.

    Gadzooks! This suggests a horrible fate for humanity! What if the meaning of a word were to jump the semantic divide concerning the concept of semantics — with our sense of meaning compromised, our language comprehension would steadily erode away. It would be {shudder} “Semantic AIDS”!!!!

  4. Cain

    SK, I’m curious how many of those kissing trivia and facts that you linked to were borne out by your research?

  5. @4 Cain,
    The site I linked to was the first to pop up doing a search for an example with ’26’, but I wasn’t using these kind of sources. Let’s just say ‘trivia’ items like this didn’t make the manuscript.

  6. Marion Delgado

    A standard metric kiss would probably be determined by the French. So who’s to say 26 calories is wrong?


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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