January 31, 1996
Web posted at: 10:40 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Jeanne Moos
NEW YORK (CNN) -- You don't have to drive a lemon to smell like one. Although if lemon isn't your cup of tea, you might choose spice, pine, or Vanillaroma.
If you think Vanillaroma is a city in Italy, let us refresh your memory of car air fresheners. They're hanging from rear view mirrors everywhere, and come in more varieties than you might think. From football teams to musclemen to Christmas trees, some motorists can't get enough.
As one construction worker explained, "When you're working in a truck with a bunch of guys, believe me, it smells better than who's in there."
Instead of perspiration, these consumers are talking inspiration. There are air fresheners inspired by Polo, the Calvin Klein fragrance CK, and Eternity. Unfortunately, they tend not to last an eternity -- their life span is closer to a month.
Since they're only going to last a few weeks anyway, some consumers bypass the scented cardboard and go straight for the bottle. "I use perfume," one woman told us.
For those who want their car to smell like a car, there's New Car Scent. (Connoisseurs say its resemblance to the smell of a new car is "debatable.")
Having difficulty finding the one for you? Maybe you should look up Medo, the world's largest supplier. The company has an entire catalog of air fresheners, from coconut to peachy peach. Vanilla, they say, is their most popular. Chocolate and coffee were aromas that bombed.
Fresheners come in a multitude of forms as well, including stick-ons, clip-ons, and even scented beads for the ashtray. Then there's "The Crown." American Auto Accessories puts out the Crown, which even lights up.
"It's a very classy ornament," explained Joseph Deegan, the Crown's national sales manager. The scent comes from a bottle of liquid underneath the crown. Should you be tempted to freshen your drink with it, rather than the air, note the helpful warning on the label. It's not for human consumption.
But the warning wasn't what made sales of the crown plummet. Rather, it was the cross on top of the crown. Rumors began circulating that the cross was somehow associated with the Ku Klux Klan. The rumor, of course, is baloney, said Deegan. Even a KKK organizer assured CNN that there is not connection, which clears the air about this air freshener.
The nicest thing about this model: When the smell runs out, you still have the crown. Eat your heart out, Princess Di.
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Air fresheners may not be the way to go for every consumer. "I think they smell up the car," said one limousine driver, who said that he'd choose plain old soap and water over Cherry Delight or Lively Lemon any day.
A driver at the West Side Car Wash said his boss uses air fresheners, but hides them under the seat rather than let them dangle. "They look a little tacky, driving around with a $30,000 car and a $1.99 air freshener," he observed.
He probably wouldn't be alone if he let it show in his classy car. The fact is, one of the cheapest air fresheners is also one of the most popular. The little tree comes in about 40 scents. It's become the icon of air fresheners, and its manufacturer cites more than a dozen films in which it's appeared.
In "The Fisher King," they put one around Robin Williams' neck to freshen him up. And in the serial murder movie "Seven," the killer leaves hundreds of little trees at the scene of a murder to mask the smell of a decomposing body.
Killing is one thing, overkill quite another. Over the holidays Macy's dressed a mannequin in nothing but little tree air fresheners -- 250 of them, ordered directly from the manufacturer. "For our purposes these were unscented, otherwise we'd be asphyxiated in the window when putting these things on," said a Macy's employee.
There are some things that even an air freshener can't freshen, and not even a face mask can mask. But if you're looking for salvation from most odors, you can always try the "lasting freshness" air freshener depicting Jesus. Wait a minute, shouldn't that read "everlasting?"
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