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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Almanac/Fragrant Firsts

Air Date: Week of

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This week, we have facts about the first fragrance strip. Today’s perfumed-filled magazines owe their fashion scents to a pioneering ad that first appeared in newspapers sixty-five years ago.


CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC: Moog Cook Book, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"]

CURWOOD: Sixty-five years ago, the noses of American newspaper readers sniffed something more than just ink and paper. The morning news came with the distinct scent of roses. The fragrant strip had been born. A drug store used it to advertise flowers. But the perfume industry quickly grabbed the idea, to the delight of some and to the dismay of those with chemical sensitivities.

The fragrance industry has come up with all sorts of novel ideas to put scent to paper. There’s soap-based film infused with perfume oil that releases an aroma only when touched. And perfume oil can be encased in tiny bubbles that burst when applied to the skin. The next generation of paper-based scents isn’t quite as sweet. Children may be attracted to the smelly old history of the world. A series of books packed with historical whiffs, including a sweaty aroma, and a rotting crocodile mummy and Henry the VIII’s diseased toe.

But who needs paper when digital smells are on the way? They include printers that spritz scent rather than sentences. So you can e-mail a virtual bouquet to that special someone. Why pick when you can just point and click? And for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.




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