A forest of pine trees in the snow on a mountain.
Photo: Andrew Zuckerman

How to Bring the Scent of Pine Home Without Uprooting a Tree

By Aileen Kwun
December 14, 2019
1 minute read

There’s no need to cry over spilled milk—especially when it brings with it a whiff of opportunity. German-Canadian perfumer Julius Samaan first introduced the ubiquitous Little Trees pine-scented car freshener in 1952, after meeting a milk truck driver from upstate New York who complained of the smell of spills throughout the day. With its sharp and pungent aroma, the tree-shaped cardboard cutout was a small but simple solution for the driver’s relatable occupational hazard (and, really, anyone with a little funk in their trunk). Sold at gas stations for a thrifty $1.99 to this day, the kitschy little ornaments now come in dozens of sickly scents, from Black Ice to Caribbean Colada, that stray far too far from the original thing, let alone anything you’d ever want to smell, spilled milk or not. Then and now, the smell of fresh evergreen pine is synonymous with festivities of the holiday season, and you can easily enjoy the scent without the guilt of uprooting a whole tree—or giving into a sad artificial stand-in: Simply boil some dry or fallen needles in water at home for a similar effect, and an instant quench for time-honored nostalgia.