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The Manly Scent of The Hummer


I know a young lady in Chicago who has a curious reaction whenever she sees a HUMMER while driving in the city: she raises her middle finger and screams “go to Hell you rich gas-guzzling imperialist pig” at the top of her lungs. She’s about 5 foot 3 and has curly blond hair and gets to do this. She says some Hummer drivers laugh at her and try to get her phone number when she flips them off.

I just avert my eyes from Hummers. Can’t look at em.

The stylish, ecocidal, Toyota-crushing and Arab-killing High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, you recall, entered the upscale US consumer market sometime after the first “Persian Gulf War” (Dessert Storm), cashing in on its reputed role in helping George Bush I celebrate the end of the Cold War by slaughtering tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The young lady’s husband is from France.

And I know something she won’t be buying him for Christmas: Hummer Eau deToilette Spray.

A Hummer fragrance is on the market? But of course, just like special perfumes named after various celebrities, like Donald Trump, who was in Chicago last week to sell Donald Trump The Fragrance.

“It is aspirational just like any celebrity or designer fragrance. A lot of people can’t afford a Hummer or a Jaguar, but they can buy the fragrance. So it’s buying into the whole luxury thing.”

That’s how Mary Ellen Lapsansky, Executive Director of the New York-based Fragrance Foundation, explained it all recently to Chicago Tribune reporter Mark Caro for a clever article that appeared in that newspaper’s officially feminine and therefore somewhat (by sexist dictates) trivial “Tempo” section today (see the full article below).

And what you ask does a Hummer smell like, in the world of the perfume industry? According to the distributor of the new fragrance, which is sold in a small bottle shaped like the vehicle and topped by a compact pritzer, “the Hummer adventure begins with a fresh and exhilarating burst of freshness comprised of green foliage, cardamom, thyme and peppercorns that capture the essence of the outdoors. These lively notes are then melded with a warm, rugged, masculine, adrenaline rush of leather, patchouli, amber and sandalwood. The smooth richness of tonka bean act[s] as the ‘axle’ that links and balances the fresh and warm notes, creating an olfactory sensation that can only be Hummer.”

I happened upon this item after reading a very different article in the same Tribune, a disturbing front-page piece about the proportionately larger number of GIs who now survive combat injuries thanks to new combat medical techniques. “The flight from Baghdad to the snow-dusted forests of southwest Germany,” this article begins, “takes about six hours. The planes arrive every day, bearing broken soldiers from the battlefields of Iraq. Some are walking, others, heavily sedated, are on stretchers. In the most severe cases, ghastly abdominal wounds have been left open, covered only with a clear plastic bag.”

Read on and you learn about one survivor who would not have made it out from previous wars. This soldier, we learn, “lost one leg above the knee, the other in a hip disarticulation, his right hand, and part of his face” (Tom Hundley, “More GIs Surviving Battlefield Injuries,” Chicago Tribune, 15 December 2004, sec. 1, p.1).

I wonder where Ms. Lapansky puts that on her scale of the “aspirational.”

Whether this “survivor” was injured while riding in a military Hummer (with or without proper armour, however relevant) I have no idea, but it all makes me wonder if the technical staff of the Fragrance Foundation should have visisted the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the biggest American military hospital in Europe, or perhaps Walter Reed in the US, in their quest to capture the essence of the scent of the Hummer. Or perhaps they could have surveyed one of the hospitals that US forces allowed to stand in Fallujah.

Might I suggest the smell of blood and rotting or burning human flesh?

Here (below) is the witty “Tempo” piece, certain to be appreciated in the Middle East….I won’t say anything about The Donald. Eau deRumsfeld anyone?

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“Can’t afford a Hummer? You can, at least, smell like one”

By Mark Caro
Tribune entertainment reporter

December 15, 2004

Women’s fragrances suggest billowing curtains, sea breezes, flowing lace, seductive midnight glances.

Guys, meanwhile, can smell like Hummers.

Yes, for the man who wants his bodily odor to denote a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle originally designed for the Army, we have Hummer Eau de Toilette Spray — as well as scents tied in with Jaguars, Corvettes, Ferraris and Orange County Chopper motorcycles.

“It is aspirational just like any celebrity or designer fragrance,” said Mary Ellen Lapsansky, executive director of the New York-based Fragrance Foundation (gee is that a 501 C3 nonprofit?). “A lot of people can’t afford a Hummer or a Jaguar, but they can buy the fragrance. So it’s buying into the whole luxury thing.”

How does a Hummer smell? …Here’s how the Hummer’s own materials describe it:

“the Hummer adventure begins with a fresh and exhilarating burst of freshness comprised of green foliage, cardamom, thyme and peppercorns that capture the essence of the outdoors. These lively notes are then melded with a warm, rugged, masculine, adrenaline rush of leather, patchouli, amber and sandalwood. The smooth richness of tonka bean act[s] as the ‘axle’ that links and balances the fresh and warm notes, creating an olfactory sensation that can only be Hummer.”

Oh, so that’s the olfactory sensation that can only be Hummer. Funny, but when I wore the fragrance home, my wife just said, “Oh! You smell like a bad Saturday night date from 1989.”

I dabbed some on at work as well and harassed — I mean, solicited opinions from — some of my female colleagues. Adjectives they used: “mossy,” “flowery,” “subtle.”

“That’s Hummer?” one colleague reacted in shock when I revealed the scent’s identity. “It smells like Irish Spring soap.”

To take the sniff test to its logical extreme, I approached Donald Trump as he was at Marshall Field’s last week to promote his new Donald Trump the Fragrance. He said he’d never heard of Hummer.

Fortunately, I just happened to have some spritzed on my wrist, so I held it daintily under his nose. After asking his bodyguard to let go of my arm, Trump sniffed and muttered dismissively, “It smells great.”Tom Julian, trend analyst for the New York creative marketing agency Fallon Worldwide, said the idea behind these road scents is “the extension of these stylish brands entering worlds in unexpected ways. The new generation of sport utility vehicles are marketed in such a unique way that they can exist not only as a sport utility but as a brand that can live in other categories like apparel and accessories.”

Hence we can wear Hummer — but not Buick. “You’re buying into a certain lifestyle when you buy the Hummer fragrance,” Lapsansky said. “A Buick, I don’t know.”

OK, but guess what? There is a Chevrolet men’s fragrance. Perfumania.com notes: “Chevrolet is classified as a refreshing, fruity fragrance.”

Va va vrrrroooooom!

Chevrolet isn’t exactly a hot men’s product or even widely available, but most high-end fragrance shops and department stores stock Hummer, which was released this fall and almost immediately vaulted into the top-20 best-selling men’s fragrances, according to NPD Beauty.

Marshall Field’s saleswoman Cindy Fox said women have been doing most of the Hummer, Corvette and Orange County Chopper purchasing for their boyfriends or husbands. “He drives a Hummer, or he’s always wanted a Corvette,” Fox explained, noting that these colognes tend to be “very masculine fragrances.”

I suppose that’s in the nose of the beholder. Orange County Choppers Full Throttle Cologne for Men boasts the on-box slogan “Your Road . . . Your Rules,” so you expect to smell the mud spraying from wheels, the exhaust fumes, the sweat seeping into your leather coat. . . .

“Is that a woman’s scent?” asked one female colleague. “It must be, right? It’s too powdery and frou-frou.”

One reason these tie-in fragrances may succeed is that most guys, this one included, really don’t know jack about choosing colognes, so why not get one associated with a car?

And there’s no reason to stop with vehicles. There’s already a Swiss Army cologne (so you can smell like, uh, a whittled tent peg?) and various Adidas scents.

Why hasn’t my parent company thought to market Cubs cologne? (Suggested slogan: “Now you can stink and choke!”) How about Budweiser Eau de Toilette? Or Black & Decker Power Tool: The Fragrance?

“If the power tool is right,” Julian said, “it probably could exist in this day and age.”

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Scent of The Donald

Of course, not everyone wants to smell like a road-hogging, gas-guzzling monster of the freeway.

Some guys would prefer to smell like Donald Trump.

Thank goodness Donald Trump realized this vacuum in the marketplace and created Donald Trump the Fragrance.

“Looking back I would never think that people would necessarily want to smell like me, but I guess they do,” Trump said while promoting his fragrance at Marshall Field’s last week.

It must be noted, women outnumbered the men by about 5-1 among the throngs assembled to gawk at or to get The Donald to sign their $60 cologne boxes.

“You’re in awe of these people, so anything they endorse or sponsor, you want it,” said Josephine Hernandez, a marketing manager in the crowd. “You want their luck to rub off on you.”

Joey Majumdar, who works for another fragrance company, was trying to get a prime viewing spot of the mogul. Did Majumdar want to smell like Trump?

Yeah,” he said. “He’s very successful, so it makes a statement when you put on the fragrance. It gives you the confidence and motivation and satisfaction of life. Because you want to be like him.”

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