Back to all articles

The History of Car Air Fresheners

In 1952, Julius Sämann, a Jewish chemist who fled Germany and settled in Watertown, New York, had a conversation with his milkman, who complained that spoiled milk had left a bad smell in his truck when it accidentally spilled. Sämann had spent years studying the Canadian pine forests and extracting their aromatic oils, so when he heard about the milkman’s problem, he combined the scented oil from a Canadian pine tree with a specialized blotter material and created the first car air freshener. He fashioned it in the shape of a pine tree as a nod to the trees that inspired him. Sämann’s car air fresheners quickly became a massive success in America and around the world. Today, they are known as Little Trees and are still manufactured in Watertown. The product line has also grown far beyond the original three offerings (Royal Pine, Spice, and Bouquet) to encompass more than 40 unique scents. Other manufacturers who followed in Sämann’s footsteps have also contributed many innovations, and there are now multiple car air fresheners available, including vent clip-ons, visor attachments, sprays, and plug-in options.

Share this article

card showing the history of rocking chairs

Your go-to guide for weird history facts

Subscribe to the FREE daily email that makes learning about history fun.