A few years ago we had a Williamsburg perfumer turn the Newtown Creek water treatment plant into a custom scent, and had her do the same with the smelliest block in New York, in Chinatown. The results were horrific enough to dissuade us from further experimentation, but now Williamsburg’s Soap Cherie has (sort of) picked up where we left off. The Bedford Avenue soap store has introduced a new NYC Smells line, inspired by the odors of Penn Station, Gowanus, and yep, the fish markets of Chinatown.
Sadly, unlike the Tompkins Square Park scented candle, A Puddle at Penn body lotion isn’t actually available for purchase—but Soap Cherie has gone to admirable lengths to create a website dedicated to this and other imaginative products. The packaging looks legit, but the “active ingredients” offer a clue that this is all a stunt. After all, the Breeze from Gowanus hand wash is supposedly made from radioactive chemicals, dead household pets, urine, and toilet paper, among other things that can’t really be described as “botanicals.” Trust me, you don’t want to know what’s in the Empty Car on the A Train shampoo— let’s just say the alchemists at Soap Cherie must be master fart cuppers.
Even if we’ll never be able to actually lather ourselves up with Manhole Steam on Delancey body wash, the product description is pretty rich.
A pure drop of water falls from a cloud and lands on Delancey Street. The street welcomes it with dirt and a thin film of gasoline. Gravity pulls this mixture below a manhole, where it hits a scalding, rusted water main. It transforms back into a cloud, and flies through the manhole grate. Yeah, this city is so magical, it has clouds rising form the ground. The clouds of Delancey Street.
But the best part is the ad for NYC Smells, which you can watch right here.