Viewer Mail: Help Me Smell Like Tire Shine

Dear Katie,

I've been dating a wonderful fella for almost a year now, and he keeps telling me how he LOVES this perfume, except he can't remember the name, or even what it really smells like (except for "good"). I've been trying to solve the mystery, and here's what I've learned, with a LOT of trial and error:

1) It was most popular around 1997-2000 but it is still worn today, and not by any particular "type" of woman.

2) It is not: Lucky You, Angel, Happy, D&G The One, B Spot, CK one or any of the other popular CK fragrances.

3) It's sweet, but not very floral.

I got a breakthrough clue when he realized that Meguiar's Tire Shine (in the black arousal can) smells just like the perfume, and, I Googled "Tire Shine" and people say it smells just like blueberries and/or cotton candy.

I made a fool of myself at Walmart, huffing it in the fragrance aisle while trying to match it to a perfume. I had to buy the can when an employee caught me, but the good news is, it really shines up your tires!

I must really like this guy. Can somebody help me figure out what this perfume is? Please?

Shine on you crazy diamond,

Jenn - number one, that Meguiar's Tire Shine must be some seriously good sh*t, because you spelled "aerosol" as "arousal". Looks like I've got a little Walmart huffing of my own to do.

"Blueberries and/or cotton candy," huh? The only thing that immediately comes to mind is Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy, which is 50% blueberries, 50% cotton candy, and 100% blechhh. (But to be fair, I haven't tried it on my tires yet.) Anyway, it wasn't around in that 1997-2000 time frame you're looking for.

I am positive that my clever correspondents will suggest a raft of possibilities for this mystery fume. (I'll kick things off with Bulgari Black, that nummy hot rubber'n'vanilla niff.)

But Jenn! Why wrangle the best minds in perfume forensics just to track down the scent that reminds your fella of some other floozie? (Uh...not that you're a floozie. Just a Tire Shine huffer.)

That circa 1997-2000 ex is no concern of yours -- or his -- and neither is the rubber shiner's perfume. Time to introduce some new smells that he'll long for, and associate only with you. Might I suggest Walmart's hardware dept? The smell of Goo Gone is hard to forget.

Forensics Team -- any potential matches with the perp's perfume?


  1. Could it be Pink Sugar?



  2. As intrigued as I am by this mystery, I'm with Katie here: Get him hooked on the best scent of all: Yours! :-D

  3. Im guessing Pink Sugar too...was trapped in an office with a youngster who had bathed in it...

  4. think its Paco Rabanne...

  5. Taking two sides of the argument in this comment...

    First to defend the guy: Just because he likes a fragrance from his general aromatic memory and experience, doesn't mean that the odor is associated with a woman, but possibly just "Woman". I fell in love with Escape, simply by the sillage flowing from many women, and without intimacy with anyone. And I still love it, and many times when my wife walks out and I get sillage whiff, I say, "WOW! You smell nice, What are you wearing?"

    And against the Guy: It is a proven fact, that smell is our strongest memory trigger. That's why signature scents are astounding for imprinting "YOU" upon others in public and private. (or imprinting and remembering "place", or "place and experience" upon people.) For example, think of church incense and CdG Avignon for instance...

    And for readers unaware, signature scents are by Divine decree on that churchy type score, for in Exodus 30 of the Bible, God dictates a formula both for the Incense and the Anointing oil fragrance, and gives the prohibition for personal use, so that the odor imprints upon people coming to the Temple, and people remember God and the place with their experiences.

  6. Oh, I forgot to add that rest of my thought against the guy, but I suppose it is assumed. But if the fragrance *IS* associated with another woman in particular, then toss the old out, and give him your own signature scent, or better yet, pick something out together...

  7. Have you tried any of the Tommy Hilfiger perfumes? Liz Claiborne Curve or Cool Water for women? Not a fan myself, but trying to stay true to those years.

  8. The original ("Butterfly") Hanae Mori? Released in 1995, notes of strawberry, blueberry, cotton candy and a deep sweet vanilla?

    I rather like it myself, but for me it's the olfactory equivalent of a nice pair of lounge pants, a box of chocolates and a really trashy romance novel. I wouldn't wear it out of the house, but then I'm in my 40s and prefer to wear stuff that I presume Jenn wouldn't touch with the proverbial 10-foot pole.

    And I don't believe in signature scents anymore... except that I do have one that I tend to wear when I'm, um, looking for some action. My husband knows by now that if I'm wearing Citizen Queen, embraces are welcome.

  9. I know! I know!

    Maybe he's thinking of Philosophy's "Falling In Love", which is from the era you mentioned- (late '90s to early "new millenium") and carries notes of blackberry and cotton candy.

    Though this is not usually my particular type of fragrance, I have worn it, and do seem to receive compliments, all of them from men, strangely enough.

    Just a thought... =]

  10. I like the idea that Pink Sugar will become forever linked with Tire Shine in the minds of perfume lovers everywhere....

  11. The perfumer who would know which perfume you are looking for is most likely Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume- his studio is in Brooklyn, NY and he has a website - you might ask him for a historical reference. Heads up though, tell him you know he is currently working with rubber, and capturing that smell in a perfume (he told us at Sniffapalooza Spring Fling this past Spring). If he has released the rubber-combo scent, it might be your ideal next and new perfume choice. Good luck!

  12. I'm going to assume the tire shine does not smell like rubber...

    Could it possibly be Chopard Wish, Hypnotic Poison, Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars or Delicious Feelings by Gale Hayman?

  13. Loving all the sparky suggestions, here! The smells all stacking up like the inventory of Perfumania.

    Paul - interesting Biblical reference re God's signature scent. I'm cracking up that even S/He doesn't want anyone else wearing it! Another justification for Jenn to trigger some new happy memories with her own perfume.

    I do appreciate your devil's advocate (or just "dude's advocate") point that maybe the guy just likes the scent that was inescapably popular for a time.

  14. museinwoodenshoes - haha! I'm wondering if the promise implied by your wearing of Citizen Queen overrides the deflating potential of your lounge pants, no matter how "nice"? Scratch that - I know my husband has a heroic ability to overlook my Partridge Family t-shirt and baggy sweats when it's "business time".

    Ooh wow, Tina, I like that Falling In Love suggestion! And you just made me think of Trish McEvoy Blackberry & Vanilla Musk No. 9, even though that came out at the tail end of the required period: 2000.

    Laura, trust you to go the "deep cuts" route with CB I Hate Perfume. We're sending Jenn from Walmart to a perfume art gallery in Brooklyn - love it!

  15. Katie, I'm with you. I've got my money on Bulgari Black.

  16. Jenn, you are going to alot of work for someone you have been dating for a year. I hope he is worth it!

    I am with those who say, choose a perfume YOU love and he will learn to love it cos it will remind him of you!

  17. Hey guys thanks for all the great suggestions... even the goo-gone (I tried it... too orange-y even for my liking).

    My motivation for sending this request was not the desire to become a scratch-and-sniff knock off of some dreaded ex, or even someone he once knew. It's a smell he liked once upon a time, and I have a thing for solving mysteries... He thinks I smell great even if I'm not wearing perfume at all!

    It's become game, all in good fun, and it has turned out to be a really great way to get to know more about him, myself, and us as a couple.

    We're odd, and that's one of the reasons we work :)

    Keep the suggestions coming, and I'll keep sniffing away and let you know what I figure out!!!


    PS. As for choosing a perfume I LOVE... it's Burberry; and I never would have found it had I not been on a quest for this mystery scent!

  18. Wait....he's a guy who has had a conversation about perfume. Right? He's a keeper I say. I doubt he's having yearning flashbacks to someone else. If he were, there'd be a whole lot of other guns smoking. This is very promising. Scent memories can be unsettling..but think of the scent fun ahead!

  19. cheryl, you have absolutely hacked through the balderdash to arrive at the most important point: Jenn has found a scent-sensitive guy who's tuned into the less-obvious sensual pleasures of life. He IS a keeper!

    Jenn, thanks for playing along - I think everyone here enjoys the mystery-solving, too. I like the idea of a perfume search as a couple-bonding activity.

  20. Is Gucci Rush a possibility? It fits the time frame and the vaguely sweet, fruity/chemical smell.

  21. Aha! I like that Rush idea, Spike.

  22. I immediately thought Bulgari Black, too. Maybe Hypnotic Poison? Can't wait to find out. I always think it is interesting to find out what men like...It's so very individual.

  23. I second Gucci Rush. Good call!

    Perhaps this fragrance is lactonic and fruity. If it's not Rush, maybe look into some of the Escada or Kenzo scents. I hope you find it!

  24. A search-by-notes on led me to something called Electrify Me by Avon. I can't find a year for it, so this is kind of a guess in the dark, but it's worth a sniff. Another one for which I couldn't find a year was called Payard Lychee Mousse.

    a 20-year-old with little perfume knowledge. =)

  25. This query has really gripped all you scent detectives out there. "Electrify Me", xaryax? Almost worth tracking down just for the name!

  26. Did you try Miss Dior Cherie by Dior? It is pretty sweet, slightly fruity and not very floral (it somehow smells like a cake shop to me). In case you never did (even if, I find it impossible), sniff Viva La Juicy! by Juicy Couture. It contains caramel, praline, vanilla, blackcurrant but also a lot of flowers (and as you said it is not a floral perfume). Hopefully you will find the perfume, I am very curious (yes, I know what killed the cat) :))

  27. Between Tire Shine, Pink Sugar, Rush and Miss Dior Cherie, I'm starting to get the idea that Jenn's on the fast track to blowing out her sense of smell entirely!

  28. These are masculines, but if the guy likes berry and tar, he should like Knize Ten-if you can find it. M7 by Yves Saint Laurent is also particularly sweet and fruity (more candied fruit than berry, though).


  29. Knize Ten truly does smell like something you'd find in automotive care.

  30. No current news on the Tire Shine scent? I am dying to know! :)

  31. JoanElaine - I know! Me too! This quest really captured people's imaginations. Jenn, if you're out there, and not too dizzy from sniffing random industrial products, please check in.