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What's the Violet-Scented Fragrance on Baby's Head? The Story Behind a Cuban Classic

A violet-scented cologne created in Cuba almost 90 years ago is still a favorite among Moms who douse it on their babies' heads. Here's the story behind it.
Royal Violets bottle
Royal Violets bottle

If you grew up in a Cuban family or are of Latino descent, chances are your head may have smelled of violets as a baby or even in your childhood years. The tradition started in Havana almost 90 years ago when a man named Agustín Reyes developed the first violet-scented cologne in Cuba, "Agua de Violetas" or "Royal Violets."

The fragrance was not created as a baby cologne, but the light, fresh scent became popular among Cuban mothers for their babies. A year after Castro's revolution took effect, the Reyes family fled Cuba with the formula covertly in hand.

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Once settled in Miami, they reestablished the business with the fragrance that had brought them success on the island nation. Word of mouth quickly spread among the Cuban exile community and Agustin Reyes, Inc. enjoyed newfound success, picking up on a tradition that went on to become an iconic part of Cuban culture and beyond.

Agustin ReyesNBC News

Over 9 decades later, the shelves in most drug stores catering to the U.S. Hispanic community remain stocked with more than ten brands of the fragrance. Agustin Reyes III currently runs the business his grandfather established from a plant in Hialeah, Florida. He spoke to NBC Latino about the family's fragrant history.

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