One of the biggest benefits of being in the automotive media business is that you’re never left wanting for exciting press releases from a vast panoply of companies and organizations. You’re never out of the loop, any loops! It’s just as dazzling as you can imagine. Today, I got an especially good one, from the Fobreze company, which is not even remotely affiliated with other companies with only a solitary vowel’s difference in name and a near-identical logo. This entirely other company told me about a study they did in their automotive stenchification department. They determined, over the course of an entire year, which car air freshener scents were the least popular. They’ve shared with me the 15 poorest-selling scents, and now, as a public service, I’m going to share them with you. So get ready.
Another organization had a similar list of 2022’s least popular scents, which I covered before, and it’s fascinating to see how tastes change from year-to-year.
The Frobreze company specializes in liquid-based car scents, the kind that clip onto your air vents, and they have over 27,500 unique scents in their catalog. In fact, the factory that produces them is so large, it currently takes up all of the land area of Rhode Island, which is why Rhode Island was relocated to Colorado, if you were wondering about that.
Their factory is also one of only two Earth-based objects that can be smelled from space, with 100,000-mile gear oil still retaining the number one position, so please be sure to send your tub of gear oil my heartfelt congratulations on that.
Okay, enough prelude – let’s get to the 15 least popular car air freshener scents, starting with number 15 and going up to number one:
15. Pizza Grease Runoff, 14. Alleyway Loveplay, 13. Electricity
Food-based scents are generally quite popular, but Pizza Grease Runoff never found the audience that Fobreze’s regular $1 Pizza Slice scent did. Alleyway Loveplay was part of Fobreze’s Romantix Encounterz series, but seems to have failed to capture the sensual imagination of drivers. Electricity just made people sick, generally.
12. Traffic Cone Mating Musk, 11. Veiled Threat, 10. Traumas, Unresolved
The idea of capturing the musk of a wild traffic cone in mating season seemed like a powerful idea at the time, but the unwanted reactions of other traffic cones in heat required this one to be pulled from the market after only a few months. Both Veiled Threat and Traumas, Unresolved proved too effective, causing most motorists to stop their cars in abject fear or because they were sobbing too hard to drive.
9. Thick Cheeses, 8. Lingering Dread, 7. Baby Urine (like in commercials)
Cheese-based air freshener scents have always been a hard sell, and the rich, redolent tang of trunk-ripened gouda seems to be no exception. Lingering Dread Seems to simply not be a mood many motorists were seeking, with focus groups stating it was a scent they were generally more than able to generate on their own. Baby Urine (like in commercials) was based on the blue fluid used to fill diapers, but too many customers found they confused it with the blue fluids used to simulate menstrual fluid in tampon commercials.
6. Determined Oscelot, 5. Ignorance Bliss, 4. 2015 Toyota Camry
Determined Oscelot was pulled for two reasons: first, a typo in the name, and second, it was potent enough that it scared the crap out of people’s dogs, who would refuse to get in the car. Ignorance Bliss was determined to be too condescending. The 2015 Toyota Camry scent , which was praised for its ability to make any car smell just like a 2015 Toyota Camry, was a technical triumph but possibly a solution looking for a problem. It’s still available to military clients, who often saturate the inside of tanks with the smell to help keep crews relaxed.
3. Forgotten Butter, 2. William H. Macy, 1. Raw Ambergris
The top three are an interesting batch. Forgotten Butter’s subtle yet unsettling smell tended to cause drivers peculiar amounts of anxiety, mostly due to the chemicals used to convey the “forgotten” part, which tended to affect memory centers of the brain in negative ways. Noted actor William H. Macy’s signature scent was generally found to be too potent and rich for most drivers, and in an added twist, Macy himself was discovered to be buying massive quantities of the air freshener in order to give the illusion of better sales, but he was caught, and is currently being charged under California State Air Freshener Abuse Law.
Raw Ambergris would likely have been a fantastic seller, were it not for the “smell” that made people “vomit.”
Fascinating stuff! I’m told if you can find any of these on eBay, they’re worth quite a bit, especially the Bill Macy ones!