An advertising campaign for Esther & Child domestic fragrances includes a timeline of significant events in the history of the air freshener.
13th century: Domestic refuse and the contents of chamber pots are thrown from the upstairs windows of homes out into the street, with the consequence that visitors bring it all back into the lower levels on their shoes or feet. Homeowners take to keeping pigs in their parlour to cover the smell. The traditional shout of “Gardez L’eau!” to warn of the presence of Filth in the vicinity gives the English the word “loo” and the Irish the word “gardaí.”
1726: Jonathan Swift writes Gulliver’s Travels, the original version of which includes a visit to the Island of Libdribnibb, whose politicians smear their bodies with berries and “remainderings” to make themselves attractive to the electorate. Overtaken by reality, this chapter was dropped from later editions.
1883: The invention of the roll-on deodorant by the Hairy Ainus of Japan.
1930s: America’s most popular contraceptive is Butch deodorant cream.
1950: Prior to the invention of cardboard cut-outs for rearview mirrors, the people of Finland freshen their car interiors by driving around with whole pine trees passed through the boot and out through the sun roof.
1965: The U.S. military conducts secret experiments spraying cinnamon-scented defoliant onto the streets of Baltimore, Maryland. Results prove impossible to determine other than a rise in the number of complaints about how early Christmas is this year.
1969: At his investiture as the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles is sprayed by a protestor with an aerosol can of deodorant. He inhales significant amounts of enviroment-damaging chlorofluorocarbons. Royal-watchers note that this day marks the point from which Charles “goes a bit funny.”
1974: Glade solid scent sticks hit the shelves. Sales of LSD see a precipitous decline.
1976: Death of Howard Hughes, after discovering that antibacterial soap has negligible nutritional value.
1977: Lemon-scented handwipes replace carbolic soap as French men’s masturbatory aid of choice.
1987: The arrival of the plug-in air freshener. Research shows that in the 30 years since their invention, plug-in air fresheners have been responsible for gassing more midgets than Hitler.
1988: The craze among teenagers for getting out of it by inhaling Hawaiian Breeze air freshener aerosols results in New Kids on the Block.
1991: The London Metropolitan Police Oversight Committee reports a 73% drop in deaths in police custody since handwash replaced bars of soap in stations.
1993: One-third of Americans say they forget to wash their hands after fisting. Worse still, two-thirds of Americans say they forget to wash their hands before fisting.
1994: Australian doctors treat children’s eczema by giving them so-called “dust pills” containing human skin flakes.
1995: The Chinese government presents sensational new scientific evidence differentiating between “bad” capitalist greenhouse gases and “good” Communist ones.
2007: The arrival of the Purity 400 Host Dispenser, which issues Communion wafers “never touched by human hand.” Rumours abound that the wafers are made by paraplegics in cages.
2010: Environmental organization Free Earth finds hormone-disrupting chemicals in supposedly “all-natural” air fresheners. Members spend four days weeping unaccountably.
2014: Esther & Child introduces its No Offence subliminal range of fragrances, which emit no smell or harmful spray into the atmosphere. The most popular bouquet among American homeowners is Lavender & Wealth.