Would you pay for a whiff of Alaskan Springtime?

Julia O'Malley
Erik Hill

Your grass may be brown and your daffodils still deep in the cold dirt, but, friends, you can find some Alaskan Springtime at your local grocer. In the air-freshener aisle.

Febreze, Procter & Gamble's line of odor elimination products, has added "Alaskan Springtime" to its selection of home fragrances. I would write a joke now, but if you live here, you're already laughing.

Here is what the people of Ohio-based P&G think our state smells like in spring: "A delicate, watery fresh fragrance with hints of warm amber and sunshine."

Watery fresh. Yes. That's just what I was thinking a couple days ago when I carried my son home from the park after he fell in a lake-sized puddle of soy-sauce colored rotting grass juices dotted with duck poo floaties. The aroma of his sodden break-up boots was so delicate that I had to let them dry out on the deck. And what the heck is warm amber? All I can think of is beer. (Especially after I read this, which cracked me up.)

"Alaskan Springtime" joins other Febreze scents like "Meadows & Rain" and "Lavender Vanilla & Comfort." You can get it in candle form, a spray and as a car air freshener. The irony of that last one goes so deep. I've spilled several lattes in my car over the last six months. It has been outside all that time. The floor mats, caked in road grit, are just beginning to thaw. How do I describe the bouquet of Alaska springtime car? Slightly vomity with a hint of wet dog? Yeah. That's about right. Go spritz that on your throw pillows.

I wanted to smell the air freshener version of "Alaskan Springtime" so I went to Wal-Mart and bought a can for $3.49. I took it back to the office and sprayed it for the guys who sit near me. They were all eating smoked salmon so the timing was perfect. The air filled with a cloying generic perfume that reminded me of a cross between junior high boy cologne and urinal mints. The guys were more charitable.

"You could call that smell 'grandma hugs,'" one of them offered.

We were split over whether the fake, chemically "Alaskan Springtime" smell was better or worse than the real, organic Alaska springtime smells, which have their own charm, if only because when you smell them it means it isn't winter anymore.

Earlier I asked readers to describe what they thought Alaska springtime really smelled like. The consensus fell somewhere between "guano and rotting leaves" and "urine-saturated backyard full of swollen dog turds." So, the question was, how did P&G, an enormous company with boat-loads of research and development funds, get the idea to name a fragrance that smells like grandma hugs after a season in Alaska that smells, literally, like crap?

I wrote them an e-mail to inquire. Below is some of our correspondence:

Me: "Why choose Alaska spring to name an air freshener after?"

Them: "Spring is a time for rejuvenation inside and outside of the home. Families are opening their windows to let the fresh air in and welcoming the new season. Alaskan Springtime helps jumpstart this process and inspires consumers to turn towards the outdoors as the weather begins to warm up and breathe happier when they spend time indoors."

Ahh, sure, the smell downwind from Westchester Lagoon in early May makes us all "breathe happier."

Me: "How do fragrances relate to their names? Are they supposed to literally smell like that thing or is it kind of an artistic use of language?"

Them: "Alaskan Springtime was inspired by the rich fragrances found in the region and designed with these fresh, airy scents in mind."

Rich fragrances of the region in springtime. Let's come up with a few more, shall we? How about "Asphalt dust and desperation," "Unwashed ski tights," or "Cigarette butt puddle."

The next question I asked was whether anyone from P&G had actually been to Alaska in the springtime and smelled it here before they decided to name a line of air fresheners after the season.

Notably, that question went unanswered.


Julia O'Malley writes a regular column. Read her blog at adn.com/jomalley, find her on Facebook or get her Twitter updates at www.twitter.com/adn_jomalley.



Julia O'Malley
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