Little Trees have nothing to do with auto upholstery, but you will find one in nearly every customer’s car. So why not learn the story behind these iconic air fresheners?
According to Behind the Design, Little Trees were invented in 1952 in Watertown, New York.
Sometime that year, a frustrated milkman had complained to a customer about the lingering smell of spoiled milk in his truck. Unbeknownst to the milkman, the customer happened to be Julius Sämann, a chemist who had studied alpine tree aromas in the forests of Canada and was interested in the biological mechanisms that disseminated them.
Curious if he could solve the milkman’s problem, Sämann began experimenting with paper soaked in natural pine oil, which he attached to a string to avoid making a mess. By hanging this contraption from a car’s rearview mirror, he discovered that he could mask most bad smells.
The air freshener, as he called it, was first produced and sold in the shape of a buxom pinup girl. However, he eventually started manufacturing them in the shape of little pine trees, so as to attract a wider audience.
Today, Little Trees are sold across the world and are available in a range of scents.