By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Mar 13, 2009 at 11:39 AM

March may be cold, but it's hot and heavy here at as we celebrate our first-ever Sex Week. We're taking a mature look at local video and sex toy shops, area strip clubs, sexy Milwaukee events -- and even some connections between Brew City and Playboy magazine. It's serious, responsible, adult-themed content -- but don't worry, parents, we'll keep it PG-13 in case junior stumbles upon these stories as turns a pale shade of blue for seven days.

Aphrodisiacs are nothing if not mysterious. Legend tells us that certain foods and herbs increase sexual desire -- the word takes its name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sensuality -- but science says the sexual powers of aphrodisiacs have never been formally proven.

Some examples, like chocolate, are thought to produce a chemical change in us, while others more seem more literal -- the banana and asparagus are quite phallic, while avocados, oysters and figs are said to resemble female sex organs.

So are aphrodisiacs as mythical as the gods from classical antiquity, or are they a true agent for amping arousal?

The team put a few of them to the test. Here are the PG-13 results.

Molly Snyder Edler
Staff Writer
Black licorice / licorice root

When I first got this assignment, I was psyched to hunker down with a big bag of black Twizzlers and see what happened. However, upon further research, I learned it's actually licorice root that is an aphrodisiac, of which there is very little (if any) in a Twizzler.

I was tempted to try ouzo and / or absinthe because both are anise-flavored liquors, but I thought that was cheating a little. If anything sassy did transpire, most likely it would happen because of the alcohol, not the anise.

Instead, I bought a box of Egyptian licorice tea made by one of my favorite tea makers, Yogi Tea, and drank a full pot of the stuff over the course an evening. Licorice root is the first ingredient in this delicious hot beverage, but I am sorry to report the only affect it had "down there" was it made me have to pee a lot. Five cups of tea will do that, I guess.

Julie Lawrence
Staff Writer

I eat and enjoy a lot of soy-based products that are spiced up to taste like other things, but soy on its own is rather dull in the flavor department, so I was a bit surprised to see it on the aphrodisiac list. But then I researched it further and learned that this protein-packed food is good for our sex lives in different ways. For women, its natural nutrients have been known to decrease PMS, which can only be a good thing when it comes to feeling "in the mood." More so, it's a catalyst for better lubrication, and I don't think I need to explain why that's helpful in the bedroom.

I opted to try plain soy yogurt, because cultures -- even soy cultures -- are also beneficial to a woman. I can't say that I noticed any immediate results, but eating nutritiously makes me feel good and energetic in general, which plays a key role in a healthy sex life.

Drew Olson
Senior editor
Horny Goat Weed

A very nice guy at the health food store told me that Horny Goat Weed (also known as Rowdy Lamb Herb, Barrenwort, Bishop's Hat or the Chinese Yin Yang Huo) actually is Epimedium, which is a family of a few dozen herbaceous flowering plants, most of which are grown in southern China, south-central Asia and parts of Europe.

For centuries, the Chinese have believed that a Chinese goat herder noticed his flock acted more "romantic" after ingesting the weed. Some researchers believe that the herb has "Viagara-like" properties. Others feel this is a bunch of hooey.

I bought a tiny bottle of pills with a funny cartoon goat on the outside. After nearly a week, I'm sad to say that I don't feel a major difference.

After 11 years of marriage, I've found that the simple act of unloading the dishwasher, mopping the kitchen floor or cleaning the bathroom is a lot more conducive to romance than taking some herb in pill form.

Maureen Post
Staff Writer
Chili peppers

I tried chili peppers as an aphrodisiac and I'm going to have to give them an affirmative thumbs up. I'm a fan of spicy food; not spice to the extent of extinguishing flavor but a nice little kick to heat up any dish is a welcomed addition at my table. Stimulating the release of endorphins, eating chili peppers mimics physical reactions produced in moments of extreme excitement or imminent danger. The heat in chili peppers is a warming heat, sparking sweat glands and raising body temperatures. This, I think, is the perfect aphrodisiac.

Bobby Tanzilo
Managing Editor

There are all sorts of reasons that might -- note the word "might" -- offer physiological explanations for why many cultures across the centuries have prized chocolate as a lubricant of love. Could be that the fats stimulate the hypothalamus or boost serotonin, which, in turn, boosts melatonin and makes us randy? Maybe it's the N- acylethanolamines boosting our endocannabinoid levels? Or maybe it's just that it tastes so damned good it puts us in a good mood and that's enough to get us going when we're in the company of someone who already excites us.

Maybe it's because we get chocolates in heart-shaped boxes from the ones we love. Maybe, just maybe, we're already randy and really into chocolate, too, and one has nothing to do with the other; it's all coincidence. Whatever it is, there's nothing like a succulent, juicy strawberry, for example, dipped into deep, silky, rich chocolate -- accompanied by that other inimitable love-catalyst, red wine, for getting in the mood. Add some Barry White and the deal is struck.

Andy Tarnoff

Apparently, the Aztecs used to mix chocolate and vanilla to get their love juices flowing, and the Aztec emperor Montezuma drank as many as 50 cups of Chocolatl to enhance his success with the ladies. Maybe that's why every time I'm in Mexico I see huge bottles of vanilla for sale. But since I didn't know that at the time, I didn't buy any and was forced to use some domestic substitutes.

First I chugged a vanilla Slim-Fast. It held me over until lunch but did nothing to my libido. Next, following the Aztecs' advice, I ordered a vanilla-chocolate twist cone from Kopp's Frozen Custard. That made me a little sleepy, but that's it.

Finally, I cut the middleman and went straight for the vanilla extract (a la Tom Hanks in "Family Ties.") A swig of extract, which has a 35 percent alcohol content, made me a little woozy, but otherwise unamorous. I suppose had I drank the whole bottle, it might've put me in the mood, assuming I didn't throw up.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”