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Doughnuts to Dollars? : Firefighters Hope Perfume They're Marketing as a Gag Gift Will Be a Hit With Police Officers

May 03, 1996|ANDREW D. BLECHMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OXNARD — It's called Donut Cologne, though you might think of it as Eau de Winchell's.

Oxnard firefighter Bobby Alamillo has created and bottled the essence of cinnamon crumb doughnuts, which now is ready to hit the streets.

"It's a pleasant, hungry-for-a-doughnut scent," said firefighter Craig Freeman, who along with Alamillo and Battalion Chief Clarence Slayton have invested $20,000 into developing the cologne as a gag gift. The first shipment of 10,000 bottles--which will be packaged by the Assn. for Retarded Citizens in Camarillo--is expected to arrive in about a week for a target market of police officers, the legendary doughnut eaters of all time.

"We already have retailers across the state and even Australia asking for it," said Alamillo, who came up with the idea a year ago after smelling a patrolman at a fire scene who seemed bathed in doughnut scent.

The cologne comes in a plastic, chocolate-colored doughnut bottle complete with white frosting and a rendition of a police badge, and carrying the legend "Splash some on for that 'just had my break' smell."

And what patrol officer could resist the advice on the accompanying pamphlet: "Tired of smelling like a 'pig?' Take heart, Donut Cologne is here."

Actually, scientific studies have proven that the scent of doughnuts is an aphrodisiac, at least when combined with licorice and pumpkin pie.

Alamillo isn't surprised. "People think guys in uniform look attractive, manly even," he said. "But maybe it's just the smell of doughnuts."

Still, informal early sniff testing among Ventura County's finest brought up some serious marketing barriers.

"Smells like . . . a doughnut," said Oxnard Officer Ken Klopman, sniffing the brown plastic bottle. "Some of the old-timers might go for it. But I'd prefer a bagel cologne."

Ventura Lt. Don Arth said that like many cops, he no longer eats doughnuts.

"I'm no longer a glazed gladiator," Arth said. "When I was, I preferred cream puffs and apple fritters. But I'm not about to go to the gym smelling like an apple fritter."

Picking the right odor wasn't easy. The three partners enlisted 15 fellow firefighters to whiff several concoctions developed by a Van Nuys company. The ingredients in the water-based product remain a secret--even to the partners--but the synthetic substance smells strongly of cinnamon and buttery dough.

"The plain doughnut scent just didn't smell right," Freeman said. "The jelly-filled was too potent."

"We found cinnamon crumb to be the essence of all doughnuts," Alamillo said.

Christine Le, manager of a Foster's Donuts store, agreed. "So nice," she said. "Cinnamon Crumb's a big seller."

But she wasn't too keen on the $9.95 price tag.

"That's two dozen doughnuts," she said.

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