SMELLS THAT ARE DISAPPEARING (OR ALREADY GONE)
How many of these do you miss?
- •Burning LeavesA common indicator that autumn was winding down and winter would soon be here was the crisp air filled with the smell of burning leaves. Pollution concerns caused municipalities in the U.S. to enact open burning bans beginning in the 1980s, and today residents are encouraged to either rake and bag their leaves or use them for mulch.
- •Freshly Opened Polaroid FilmPolaroid ceased production of their instant film in 2008. The foil packs used to produce a sweetish chemical-y odor when they were first torn open. It was, in fact, the official “smell” of photography for a lot of kids whose first camera was a Polaroid Swinger.
- •Magic MarkersThe classic glass bottle-bodied Magic Marker was first marketed in 1952, and until the early 1990s, the ink formula included a mixture of Toluene and Xylene, two solvents which not only had a distinctive and not unpleasant odor, but which also contained intoxicating properties when inhaled. Today’s permanent markers get their color from less fragrant alcohol-based inks.
- •Bubble Gum CardsTopps stopped including a stick of stiff, hard-to-chew bubble gum in their trading cards several years ago when more collectors than kids were buying the product and complaining about the gum sticking to and ruining the bottom card in the pack.
- •Cap GunsThe gunpowder/sulfur smell of an exploded cap is another aroma that immediately propels many minds to summer days spent playing cops and robbers.
- •The Old New Car SmellThat aroma we smell today upon delivery of a brand new set of wheels is very different from the new car smell of years ago. A lot of that smell today comes from off-gassing synthetic materials, plastics and chemical additives that are used in modern vehicles.
- •Vacuum Tube ElectronicsOld TVs and radios that were filled with tubes instead of transistors emitted a “warm” or hot engine smell as they heated up. If you weren’t particularly fastidious with the feather duster, a fine layer of dust would accumulate on the equipment inside and add a slight burning aroma to the mix. The old movie and film projectors used in schools had a similar smell once the light bulb inside had been burning for a while.
- •The Phone BookThe inexpensive pulp paper plus the ink and glue in the binding gave the giant tomes a much mustier, paper-y odor than a standard paperback novel.
- •Chalk DustMuch like cafeteria food and library paste, chalk dust simply smelled like school. With so many classrooms using whiteboards, chalkboard ledges with piles of white powder on them are becoming extinct.