I Sniffed Earl

Warning: Spoiler Earlert

NBC broadcast "a special Laugh 'n Sniff episode" of "My Name Is Earl." The sitcom was pleasingly executed, although only six odors were featured on the two-sided rub 'n whiff page stapled into "TV Guide," Clean Jumpsuit, Oreo Cookies, Cinnamon Buns, Popcorn, New Car Smell, and Salesman Cologne.

New Car Smell was my favorite, used as the fragrance of an inflatable virgin, followed by Salesman Cologne with a bouquet of the ol' bait and switch.

Cinnamon Buns was a surprise, because we were led to believe Body Odor would be the next smell. The spicy scent only half worked. It was like snorting a baker.

"My Name Is Earl" continued the long history of stinky entertainment stunts.

The first big olfactory event was the film "Scent of Mystery" (1960), also known as "Holiday in Spain," in the legendary Smell-o-Vision process, where odors, such as peaches, tobacco, wine, and onions, were piped into theatre auditoriums.

John Waters' "Polyester" (1981) was presented in the spectacle of Odorama, utilizing space age scratch 'n sniff card technology to bring rotten eggs, gym socks, and farts to eager nostrils.

The scratch 'n sniff sensation has popped up in other arenas, including children's books, print advertising, and the infamous "Hustler" centerfolds (outing hardcore fans in an epidemic of paper cut proboscises).

I apply the sniff concept to lottery scratch-off games, but they always have the taint of thumb.

In the early '80s, MTV showed "Scent of Mystery" with large numerals superimposed on the screen at key moments. The 7-11 convenience store chain distributed cards with corresponding numbered areas to activate during the movie. It was all too complicated for me, but I am credited with inventing the scratch 'n sniff Slurpee.

My memory of MTV's "Scent of Mystery" is that the flick was a horrible experience, the original length and continuity truncated by nearly an hour. I've pondered about the smells excised in the edit. I am glad, though, to have missed Peter Lorre's bunions (#23, #24, #25) and bullfight blood (#31), sweat (#32), and beers (#33 and #33 Lite, achieved by half a scratch -- "More Savor, Less Filing").

I recall the various scents in the motion picture were disappointingly similar with a strong, harsh chemical consistency. They lingered inside my nose for days, setting off smoke alarms each time I exhaled.
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