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FOUL-SMELLING PERFUME NETS A PRETTY SWEET JOB

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"Essence of Peoria" has done wonders for Bradley University student David Cook, who credits his foul-smelling brew with landing him a job.

Cook said Monday that Merrill Lynch Consumer Markets came calling on him."I'm going to train as a stock broker and I'll get my broker's license after two months. I'll train for a year or so, on the job, until I graduate. Then I'll go to work full time," the senior finance student said.

Cook, 21, of Crystal Lake, has been hawking perfume bottles of "Essence of Peoria," his attempt to duplicate industrial odor. The concoction is made of corn pulp, salt and Illinois River water.

Michael Leali, the Peoria-based Merrill Lynch vice president who hired Cook, said, "I think he's very bright and I'm convinced he's going to make a fine financial consultant."

He may need the work, because "Essence of Peoria" isn't getting good reviews in some quarters.

Mayor Jim Maloof criticized hotels and gift shops for selling it. "At my peak, I had 17 retail outlets selling it," Cook said. "The mayor says my product is making Peoria look bad and city officials have put pressure on my stores to stop selling it. I've lost five of my stores and I'm trying to save the rest of my stores and hotels."