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An Idea for Perking Up the Pages of a Newspaper

April 06, 1985

We were sitting around the breakfast table looking at an ad for chocolates. Eva commented that the ad looked horrible and this led to some discussion of how the ad might be improved.

"Scratch and Sniff," said Jerry. Do it like those new greeting cards and children's books. Run the ad with the little things you scratch, which give off some sort of odor.

Perhaps this new technology could be taken further, the "Scratch and Sniff Newspaper." You could include a small card, coded to the appropriate articles, so that a person could really get a smell for the news.

The applications in the garden and food sections are obvious. The strong smell of jasmine or gardenia, or the tomato and mozzarella of lasagna could enhance a reading of gardening or cooking tips.

And what of other applications to sports (the sweet smell of success) or even hard news? Now there would be the challenge. A review of the front page (March 25) shows a number of applications. "Gas explosion" could be accompanied by a Scratch and Sniff that exudes the odor of leaking gas, or of charred wood. "MX Votes" would be scented with pork barrel.

A story on American business in apartheid South Africa would smell of gold. When a politician claims that something in his opponent's campaign funding stinks, we'd all be able to judge for ourselves.

And perhaps on the editorial page we could have a choice of smells. Labeled agreeable and disagreeble, the scents would be chosen on the basis of whether one liked or disliked the opinions.

Of course there might be problems. After all a Scratch and Sniff on the Bhopal, India disaster, or on the massacre of innocent civilians in Lebanon, could disrupt our breakfasts. On the other hand if we all developed a nose for news, we might be a little less complacent when we read "there is a smell of famine in the air."


Van Nuys

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