10 Oct: The Smell of the Big Screen

Scent-o-Vision, an in-cinema olfactory experience, was unveiled at the New York World’s Fair on 10th October, 1940.

Accompanying a short film ‘My Dream’, its Swiss inventor, Hans Laube, pumped in aromas of rose water, peaches and burning incense for his wowed attendees to sniff. But it would be two decades before the technology was finally put into a feature film – Mike Todd, Jr’s ‘Scent of Mystery’, in 1960 – and never used again.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly revisit the 50’s battle of the ‘smellaroo pix’, as Todd’s re-named ‘Smell-o-Vision’ took on the rival ‘Smell-O-Rama’; explore why theme parks ultimately provided the best platform for the theory in practice; and consider what happens when an audience experiences ‘olfactory fatigue’… 

Image source Carmen Laube

Further Reading:

• ‘Smell-O-Vision: That Movie Really Did Stink!’ (Neatorama, 2015): https://www.neatorama.com/2015/04/27/Smell-O-Vision-That-Movie-Really-Did-Stink/

• ‘Rare pictures from the 1939 New York World’s Fair’ (Rare Historical Photos, 2021): https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/1939-new-york-world-fair/

• ‘Trailer: Scent of Mystery’ (1960):