Peel Here #114: Gordy Scratch ‘n Sniff stickers!


By Shawn Robare

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As I get older I often wonder how much the elementary school experience has changed for kids over the last 30 years.  I mean there are some obvious advancements in technology with tablets and smartphones in the home that have kids pseudo-computing and interfacing with software at a much younger age, but the basic curriculum and environment has to be pretty much the same right?  I mean for pre-K to 1st grade there has to be a lot of glitter, paste, construction paper, safety scissors, crayons, and macaroni art right?  Then you move on to that sweet D’Nealian newsprint writing paper with the blue and red guidelines right?

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I guess what I’m getting at is that I wonder if kids still get cool stickers on their graded homework and tests if they did a good job?  This was such a staple of my youth that I can’t imagine a world where this no longer applies.  One of the reasons that I was wondering is that it occurred to me the other day that I don’t think there are any companies making scratch and sniff stickers anymore.  Granted, I’m not trolling the school supply warehouses, but S’nS stickers aren’t being stocked in Hallmark stores or at places like Target or Walmart as far as I can tell.  So it’s kind of sad to think that kids may not be getting their papers back with a sticker that smells like gasoline or peanuts…

Well, anyway, I’ve written about scratch and sniff stickers at length before, mainly focusing on my personal favorite brand of stickers from my youth, Trend.  Back when I was first working on my Peel Here column I did a four part series on my collection of Trend stickers (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, & Part 4), and I pretty much hit on my favorite stickers and scents (man oh man do I love the smell of a gasoline scratch and sniff sticker.)  I also did a column on my collection of CTP scratch and sniff stickers which I don’t remember quite as well from childhood, but I know they were pretty damn popular (along with Mello Smello and the originator, 3M.)  For years I assumed that those were the big brands in sniff stickers, but after doing some digging recently I found another company that was producing sniff stickers in abundance in the 80s called Gordy.  They did a large series of Big League Chew, Bubble Yum, and Tootsie Roll-branded sniff sticker sets, but the stickers that really grabbed my attention recently are their in-house sniff stickers in the more standard 50-cent-piece size…

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These stickers came in sets of thirty six Smelly Packs, with two sheets of eighteen stickers, each sheet featuring three scents for a total of six scents per pack.  This was a lot different than the rest of the companies making scratch and sniff stickers which tended to keep the stickers limited to one scent per pack.  So these Gordy sets were really geared towards the sticker collector to maximize their collection.

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From the research I’ve done and the stickers I’ve been able to acquire I think there were about 72 different stickers in this series (I’ve only been able to get my hands on 57 of them though…

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Though Trend stickers will always have a special place in my heart because that’s the brand and imagery I have the most intense nostalgia for, I think these Gordy stickers are quickly becoming my favorites.  First off the artwork on the stickers is amazing and way more in the realm of cartoonist’s rendering from the Sunday comics than just the straight up doodle-style of Trend…

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…but there was also a whole heck of a lot more interesting, horrid and weird scents!  Where as Trend had a few “bad” smelling stickers, Gordy is packed full of examples like Barn Yard, Booze, Sewer, Dead Fish, Garbage, and Bad Breath!

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These smelly stickers are the equivalent of what Bernie Bott’s every flavor jelly beans are for kids today.  I’m surprised there wasn’t a vomit sticker, though granted, there are still 15 stickers I haven’t accounted for…

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Getting back to the cartoonist style of the illustrations, so many of these drawings remind me very much of the work of Evan Dorkin in his Dork series of comic books.  I mean, just look at these Raspberries below!

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That isn’t to say that there weren’t a ton of “good” scents too.  I also love that the drawings aren’t gender specific for the most part.  These more “girly” scents below feature some fun artwork that I think boys or girls growing up in the 80s would have dug…

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I also think the sets that were released are interesting.  All of these scans are fresh off the exact sheets they were originally sold in, so in some cases the trios make sense (like Perfume, Rose and Lilac), bu then you also have sets that are kind of insane combinations (like Raspberry, Blueberry and Tuna Fish?!?)  Then there are some that were just way ahead of their time like this combination of pastries, pies, cakes, and bacon.  Yeah, Gordy knew bacon was going to invade this market in the coming years…

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I like the tone of the humor in some of these stickers as well, like the fact that the Lemon sticker had a joke about getting a shitty car…

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…or that coconut is another term for crazy.

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And finally, a sticker that I’ve shared before when the super rad Belle Dee sent me scans of her childhood sticker collection a few years ago.  Probably the sexiest, most inappropriate for kids sticker that I’ve ever laid eyes on.  Behold, the majesty of the Gordy Banana sticker, which is just, well, bananas!

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  • I love the artwork on these! Great discovery. They seem familiar, but very vague in my memory. I don’t even know where to begin…obviously my heart calls out to the sewer sticker, but the booze and banana ones make my adult side giggle.

    • Yeah, I’m curious if the Booze one smells like liquor or hobo… ;)

  • You’ve just blown the dust off a forgotten memory. I’m certain that a bunch of these were in my sticker book when I was a kid. I clearly remember having the Bad Breath sticker, and can almost smell the garlic

    “I can’t imagine a world where this no longer applies.” I read that line with a small pang.

    I love how many of these are so inappropriate for kids. We are of a time of far less coddling I think.

    • Yup, and I think we were better off for it. It’s how you learn the important lessons in life!

  • DUSTINDUSTRIES

    I remember watching a VHS movie in the mid 80s that had a Scratch and Sniff card that came with it. At a certain point in the movie it would flash a number on the screen and you would scratch and sniff that number. I am not sure what the movie was called, something like Smell O` Rama, it was an interesting concept.

    • Yes! Was it John Water’s Polyester?

      • DUSTINDUSTRIES

        Wow! That`s the movie and card, It was a rental and the numbers on the card were all scratched up. it was a bit of an Odd movie for a kid to be watching also. There are some clips on Youtube that refreshed my memory, thanks.

        • Yeah, a really weird flick for sure, but one of Waters’ tamer movies if you can believe it!

  • Ben

    In addition to Polyester, I remember Fox did a big scratch and sniff thing on a Sunday night years and years ago. You would go to a 7-11 I think, and pick up a free pack with some 3D glasses and a scratch n sniff card. I remember almost nothing about it except that the movie was whichever Revenge of the Nerds movie was Nerds in Love. I think there were other shows or movies that were on the same card.

    • Oh man! I miss not living near 7-Elevens. I vividly remember going and picking up my 3D glasses for a TV showing of Creature From the Black Lagoon at one in the 80s. Wonder if there was a burp sniff spot for Booger?

  • Kirk Demarais

    Thanks for this, the definitive post for these stickers! So nice to see them so well presented. I bought most of these at Wal-Mart Discount City when it was spelled like that in a western looking font. I love the art, and the bad scents were so intriguing, it sort of tied them into Wacky Packages territory for me.

    As someone with a 9 year old I can confirm that grade school is surprisingly familiar. They still get stickers, and all kinds of little prizes at school. Actually, he gets little stuff all the time and nearly everywhere we go. (Well, not in cereal boxes) My son loves them in the moment, but there’s such an influx that the novelty wears off quickly. Truth is, I might have been the same way.

    • Thanks for weighing in Kirk. I’m totally envious of your experience seeing the childhood perspective from the point of view of a parent (who I know has a deep appreciation of kid stuff.) And I’ll bet you’re right about all this stuff being short lived, novelty-wise. I know there were a handful of things that I really took the time to obsess over as a kid, but a lot of the stuff I had was cast aside pretty quickly. It’s only now that I look back with longing that realize how much it meant to me, even if only for a moment…