For Smell of the Game
Rawlings New 'Scratch N Sniff' Line Takes The Game To Another Dimension
By: Marty Winkler
Peanuts. Popcorn. Cracker Jack. Soda pop. These are just a few of the smells fans encounter during a trip to the old ballpark. The smells of the game are just as American as the game itself. And now, Rawlings is bringing the game's aromas to players and fans of all ages with their new Scratch N Sniff (SNS) line of gloves.
"It just seemed like the next logical step," says Director of Marketing, Lindsey Naber, who has been with the company since 2005. "We already provide players with the best materials and the best products. Why not give them the best smells too?"
The SNS Line has been in development for several years, and as Senior Director of Baseball Gloves, Ryan Farrar tells it, the idea was born completely on accident when he was at a ballgame with his glove and not enough hands.
"I was at a game and was holding my hot dog in my glove because I was holding my drink with the other hand," remembers Farrar. "It was working out pretty well until a foul ball from Matt Holliday flew into our section. I put my glove up and, well, let's say I got a glove on it."
Farrar got more than a glove on the ball. He got the whole thing. As the glove hit the pocket of his glove, it also made a direct hit with his hot dog, condiments and all, creating a scene of hot dog devastation that is normally saved for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island.
"It. Was. Everywhere," says Farrar. "My glove took a large portion of the blow, but it was on my shirt, my pants. My wife wasn't too pleased to find some in her hair."
Ryan Farrar gently cuts out a new pattern being careful to not pop the aroma-fill micro-capsules.
But out of this destruction, came a miracle. After wiping his glove down and cleaning it out, Farrar could still smell his hot dog in his glove. From the bun to the condiments, the smell was entrapped in his web like the foul ball he desperately wanted.
"For weeks afterward I could still smell it in my glove," exclaimed Farrar. "The mustard. The relish. Every time I played catch it was still there and I thought, 'How can we get this in our products'?"
And thus, the idea was born.
Scratch N Sniff products have been around for over 50 years, most commonly in stickers. These sorts of products use a process called "microencapsulation" which is when a product is loaded with tiny, mini caplets that contain the desired smell. These micro-capsules break whenever they are rubbed, releasing the desired aroma. Because of the sheer number of micro-capsules that can be placed on one product, the smell can be preserved for extremely long periods of time. The company 3M first developed this process in 1965. Since then it has been adopted by companies such as Hallmark, Nintendo, and even Katy Perry used this technique to make her album Teenage Dream smell like cotton candy.
Farrar explains where on the glove micro-capsules will be placed so they release a smell upon impact with a ball.
But even with a well known process, Farrar and Rawlings came into several obstacles when trying to adopt the idea into baseball gloves.
"Ball gloves are typically made of leather," explains Farrar. "And leather tends to not only be a very tough material, but it has a pretty strong scent of its own. So the question was how do we overcome the natural leather smell without degrading the quality of the material?"
After years of trying, Farrar and his team had a breakthrough last August, when instead of trying to essentially glue the smell capsules into the glove, they started using steam.
"I can't get into specifics, because this is the secret sauce," Farrar says as he smiles. "But we found the perfect temperature and time to give the glove a steam bath so that the capsules adhere to the palm and pocket of the glove, but the leather maintains its strength and integrity. It's perfect."
The first smell Rawlings replicated was the inspiration for the idea: A hot dog. From there, scent development went in several different directions. Cherry. Orange. Cola. New Car. Farrar and Rawlings went hog wild, both literally and figuratively.
"We made one that smells like bacon," says Farrar. "I mean who doesn't love bacon?"
Aside from finding the perfect way to adhere the smell capsules to the gloves, Farrar also mentioned that the capsules are strategically placed so that when a player catches a ball, the aroma of their choice will pop out of the glove.
"Now when you make that great play, you're rewarded with the scent of strawberries," explains Farrar. "It's just a little more motivation to get to the ball that much faster to make a great play."
"My favorites have to be what we are referring to as the 'Heart of the Pie' line, says Naber. "They combine some dessert favorites like Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate Pecan. They're delicious."
Even with this breakthrough and whole new line of gloves about to release, Naber and Farrar give off the scent that Rawlings isn't done innovating just yet.
"Nobody 'nose' gloves better than Rawlings," explains Naber. "We will continue to be the brand that combines traditional reliability with modern day needs and aesthetics. And that's nothing to raise a stink about."
Rawlings Scratch N Sniff Gloves are scheduled to launch on April 8 and will be available exclusively at BaseballExpress.com