Scratch and Sniff Stickers – SmellStickers

History of scratch and sniff stickers

3M Corporation invented the use of micro-encapsulated fragrances for use with stickers in the late 1970’s. Scratch and sniff stickers became highly marketable in the early 1980’s. Several companies led the sales including Creative Teaching Press (CTP), Trend Enterprises, and Mello Smello. Initially, stickers were sold by educational supply companies through catalogs. Teachers bought the stickers to use as rewards for their students on homework and tests. Students began collecting the stickers, and stickers were made available to the general public. “Scratch and sniff” stickers became a household word, and anyone who grew up in the 1980’s can recall their tremendous popularity.

Although the sticker manufacturers continued to produce scratch and sniff stickers through the late 1990’s (CTP) and even still today (Trend and Mello Smello), the companies changed the way they manufactured the stickers. In 1983, the companies decided to start producing the stickers on glossy paper, as opposed to the previously used matte paper. The glossy paper does not allow for the micro-encapsulated fragrance to adhere nearly as well to the sticker as the matte paper did. (Now, twenty to twenty-five years later, the majority of the matte scratch and sniff stickers still retain their scents, whereas the majority of the glossy stickers do not.)


Needless to say, the popularity of the stickers waned in the mid 1980’s. Since then, none of the original sticker manufacturers have attempted to revert back to using matte paper. I have written several times to Trend Enterprises inquiring about the reasoning behind switching paper types. A representative from Trend eventually emailed me back after several attempts at correspondence. Her answer was simply: “ that technology is no longer available…”. After speaking with over 20 printing companies in the U.S. and abroad, I assure you that the technology is available.


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