Friday, 30 October 2009

The Ubiquitous Sweet And Other Postal Oddities

Perfume fans who have ever bought a bunch of samples from decant sites such as The Perfumed Court will be all too aware of the peculiar postal practice of enclosing a single boiled sweet with your order. The most popular choices seem to be a Bali's Best Latte, Espresso or regular Coffee Candy, though I have received tea flavoured sweets and the ones with a hole in that we call Polos and the Americans call Lifesavers. Unfortunately, I don't like coffee, so along with a number of other perfumistas who have latched on to this idea, I recycle these candies in perfume swaps on Makeupalley. It would not surprise me to learn that certain individual sweets have clocked up many thousands of miles to-ing and fro-ing across the Atlantic. What is slightly concerning is the introduction of non-regulation confectionery lines to the swapping scene. I am speaking in particular of ADHD-inducing, lurid, sugar-encrusted jelly snakes, of which I once received a bag so substantial it completely overshadowed the 5ml atomizer that was the focus of the trade.

As well as confectionery, swappers often pop in extra perfume samples - from your "wish list" if you are very lucky, or from their "wish-to-be-shot-of list" if you are not. Along with the sweets, some of these less aspirational samples commute regularly to and from America. Another popular enclosure is samples of lotions - usually the ones that come free in magazines and still have a telltale blob of glue on the reverse. Their main (and valuable) function is to add a soupcon of truth to the Customs Declaration form, in which the contents are always breezily described as "cosmetics samples".

Other freebies include Scratch 'n' Sniff panels from the same magazines, scented cocktail umbrellas (there's a bizarre invention!), and what I tend to lump together under the heading of "Alternative Tea Bags" - which is my book is basically any tea blend that is not English Breakfast, which is the one variety the rest of the world seems not to drink. The most bizarre freebie inclusion was without doubt a "collagen-placenta-face mask" from Russia. Sheep's placenta, no less, as the helpful small print pointed out.

My partner, though utterly indifferent to perfume, finds this sweet sending ritual highly amusing. He has already made serious inroads into my stockpile of coffee candies, but that's okay. He recently began swapping guitar effects pedals on a forum for bass players, who are as you can imagine a group of rufty tufty, hard-boiled, hairy musicians. For the hell of it, he has now started to slip in a chocolate lime with the pedals, tucked into a corner of the newspaper wadding. Already there has been one reference to this in a feedback comment: "Hey - nice packaging!! : - ) " And so the ubiquitous sweet continues its unstoppable march...


  1. Yeah, Bonkers, you sent me a 'green tea' boiled sweet once -- it was gross!

    Yours ungratefully

    The Scentimentalist

  2. Ah, well I now look upon these sweets as the Masonic handshake of the perfume community, rather than anything approaching a foodstuff!

  3. The Scentimentalist is funny....and true....flittersniffer, you sent me a few of those cocktail umbrellas....I think I stabbed myself on it's back end once.

    Anyway, the strangest thing I ever received as an 'extra' was a tiny, wooden massager. I thought it gross but not as gross as the dirty-looking, used hand cream sample I got in another.

  4. *lol* english breakfast tea is just the sort of tea I'd never buy because it is strong and (as far as I know) made from lower quality teas.
    Nevertheless, I hate this coffee sweets and they always ended up at work.
    Scented coktail umbrellas are a bad thing, have to be a fortunate one that I did not get any until - I'd stab myself with them for sure, too!

    :-* and hugs to you, a NARS parisienne looking


  5. I would like to reassure you both that I am a reformed character as far as the scented umbrellas are concerned. Too poke-prone for sure. And you are quite right, Andreea, some black tea is indeed low quality - like much of our British chocolate - but it is what we grew up on and we have to be helped to appreciate the finer things of life!

  6. Ah yes, lovethescents, those used hand cream samples can be a real downer in a swap! I hope you either managed to get to grips with your massager in the end - or decided to puzzle another swapper with it...

  7. Actually, I threw it out. The idea of rubbing somthing on myself that might have once rubbed others, totally grossed me out.

  8. The strangest thing I've ever gotten as an "extra" in a swap has to be the cheap easter decoration chickens I got once. The poor things looked so pathetic that I just had to smile. Maybe that was the idea..?

  9. I rather like the sound of those - were they those bright yellow nylon ones with plastic legs? The ones whose eyes sometimes fall off if you are not careful? Those mutant chicks are especially collectible, I say!

  10. Yes, that's the ones! I've saved them, so next year they will once again have their short time of attention :)