Featuring both the good (strawberry, pizza, hot dogs, churros) and the bad (garbage, sewer steam, horse manure) smells which sum up the city, New York, PHEW York was dreamed up by hotel concierge Amber Jones. “I work in Times Square and one day while I was walking to the train I got a delicious whiff of pizza. As I was was looking in the window at the pizza, deciding if I should buy a slice, I didn’t realise I was steeping in horse manure,” said Jones. “I went to the corner to make sure I didn’t get any on my shoe and was engulfed by shish kebab smoke from a food cart. It’s then I thought ‘there should be a scratch-n-sniff guide of New York’. Wha-la! The idea was born.”
She contacted a host of publishers with her proposal, an illustrated children’s book about a visiting family’s adventures around the city written in rhyming couplets, but failed to find a book deal. “Cost was always their primary concern. I was told I should have fewer smells or to have only the ‘good’ smells,” she said. But “that’s just not an honest book about New York. As much as we wish this city only smelled like cinnamon and cocoa … it doesn’t.”
Other scents in the book include red apple, fish, peanuts, shish kebabs, smoke, bagels, grass, pickles and pastrami. “The scents are being placed in the actual ink of the illustrations. Many of the scents have to be custom made and that’s where a lot of the expense comes in,” said Jones.
After deciding to self-publish, she has raised over $22,000 (£14,000) on Kickstarter for the project, easily meeting her goal of $20,000. With the $34.99 title out at the end of November, she has already received more than 450 orders for the book and is now planning a series of city “scratch-n-sniff adventures”.
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