• Jo

The Vanilla Smell

For years, we’ve all called that classic mask scent ‘vanilla’. I recently received a still-packaged Scream Stalker, and being hit with a potent nostalgic aroma, I noticed it’s a bit different than vanilla or 'vanillin' (artificial vanilla). Years ago, I tried to mimic the scent by making a perfume using both extracts. While it was familiar, it wasn’t ‘it’.

After a bit of research, I learned that industrial PVC softeners called ‘phthalates’ were used to make plastics soft and flexible, and often added a sweet candy-like scent. It seems a number of other communities fondly remember the additive, said to have a ‘vanilla’ scent as well in watch straps, dolls, and other PVC products.

In the late 2000’s, a question arose as to whether phthalates were toxic, and a push to ban them from commercial use began in California. By 2017, the EU banned the used of phthalates in many products. This seems to align perfectly with the year Ghostface masks stopped smelling of ‘vanilla’.

A member of our community was able to reach out to a factory who produces PVC products to learn more about the casting process. They said the additive that gave masks a vanilla scent has indeed been banned.

I don’t want alarm anyone over whether their masks are toxic, but it was an interesting read I recommend looking into. I’ve owned masks that had numerous scents. Some almost grape scented, or bubble gum. To my knowledge, the earliest cotton shrouded ghosts didn’t smell of vanilla, and interestingly enough have less flexibility.

If true, we may never smell that scent again!

We would like to note that the smell may be a combination of the chemicals that make up soft PVC and a vanillin based additive, as mentioned by former Fun World employee Brigitte Sleiertin-Linden:

"Vanillin was added to the vinyl of the vintage masks to improve the smell. I'd guess vanillin extract alone smells different since it's pure, the vinyl probably adds it's own scent to the mixture when combined."