In the 80s there was probably no sticker more ubiquitous than the Trend Enterprises Stinky Stickers (their flagship scratch and sniff offering). Whether you snagged one on your graded homework assignment, traded them with kids at school, or begged your parents for packs of full sheets when you were forced to go into a Hallmark store, these sniffy/stinky stickers touched almost everyone at some point. As a company, Trend put out a number of different styles of stickers, a good number of which were scented, but the ones that I’m writing about today are the classics, the one and a quarter inch round stickers with the plethora of scent varieties, depicted by numerous anthropomorphic food and item drawings. I’ve talked at length about these on the site before, but after years of researching the collecting these I think I finally have a better idea of the length and breadth of the company’s offerings during my favorite decade, enough so that I feel fairly confident that contained below is the Complete Trend Stinky Stickers of the 80s.
The company, started in 1967 by husband and wife duo John and Kay Fredericks, has been specializing in elementary school support aids and educational paper products ranging from decorative board borders to flash card sets. Whether it’s graphically fun award certificates, wipe-able signs, or stickers, Trend has been literally all over American classrooms for over fifty years, and they’re still going strong in 2020. Though they made a name for themselves with a series of branded bulletin boards and flash card sets through the 60s and early 70s, it was their foresight to tinker in the scented sticker game in the mid to late 70s that led them to become a huge player in the sticker boom of the 80s. Though their initial 10 designs were nowhere near as interesting as the bulk of their 80s catalog, these first sticker sets were integral to positioning them for greatness.
Sadly I haven’t been able to track down physical copies of their first three scratch and sniff stickers (though I have seen them before), as they were sold directly to teachers back in 1978 and are very hard to find on the secondary market. They were released in tandem with awards certificates that teachers could hand out to kids for doing a good job. The first three scents were Banana, Bubble Gum and Peanut. Here’s an example of one of those certificates (with a later sticker applied as an example…)
In 1979 they updated these initial three offerings with new designs, and then added four more scents. These stickers were sold both directly to teachers and also to novelty and greeting cards shops so they were much more widely available. The four new scents were Rose, Licorice, Cherry and Gingerbread.
These new stickers were sold in sheets of 10 and came in packages with two scents or packed with award certificates. Though they’re much more interesting, design-wise, than the first three Trend offerings, they hadn’t quite nailed the style that would come to define the brand throughout the 80s and early 90s. Above you have Banana, Bubble Gum and Peanut respectively.
Pictured above are Gingerbread, Licorice, and Rose respectively. Of the seven new designs that were released, only one of them would go into regular rotation in stores for the next decade. The six pictured above would be retired in 1980 as the next incarnation of Trend scratch and sniff stickers were introduced to the public. The Cherry sticker featuring a cartoon clown would graduate to the third iteration of the Trend releases and would be made available on both 10-up sheets as well as the more common 12-up sheets that we’d see in the 80s.
In researching the brand there is one piece of information that I have not been able to track down that has really been keeping me up at night and that is the identity of the artist that actually illustrated the stickers for Trend. I’ve tracked down all of the individual copyright applications for all of the stickers and many of their other products in the 70s and 80s, but the artists listed on the applications are always “Trend Work-For-Hire”. There is one exception, an artist that was listed on a number of Trend products, a man named Floyd Johnson, a Minnesota native who appears to have been closely tied to Trend for periods in the 70s and 80s. Though they produced products with a number of different artistic styles, the company was rather small, with less than 200 employees (most of which appear to have worked in production), so the idea that they had few artists resources is fairly likely. Also, having dabbled in graphic design myself, I know that the style is very often thrown out in favor of delivering what’s needed for the job, so even though Johnson tends towards more photo realistic and impressionistic paintings, he could just as easily produced the fun line work of the Trend stickers for “the job.” I’ve reached out to Mr. Johnson and hope that I can update this piece with more accurate information soon.
Getting back to the stickers, between 1980 and 1982 Trend began releasing larger waves of their newly branded “Stinky Stickers” designs to stores and school all over the country. By the time 1985 rolled around they now offered a whopping 104 different stickers available in 90 different scents. By far they were producing the largest range of scents and stickers in the industry. I previously wrote a four-part series on these when I first started the site almost 14 years ago, but at the time I was only able to track down 54 of the 104 designs. So now I can confidently say that here is the complete Trend Stinky Stickers of the 80s..
Included in with these 104 designs were a few holiday sets including stickers for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Easter.
And finally, though the sticker was not actually scratch and sniff, there was a special “Collector’s” sticker you could get with the collector binders and as a mail-away premium that featured the Trend unofficial Stinky Stickers mascot skunk…
During this run in the 80s these stickers were sold in many iterations, both in multiple scent packs that had between 12 to 420 stickers, as well as parts of award certificate packs. The earlier batches of stickers were available with a matte finish (that has held the scent of the stickers 40 years later), but later printings were done in a glossy finish that did not hold up as well (at least in terms of retaining the scents.) Here’s some examples of these releases.
The aesthetic from these stickers were carried forward into sheets of scented collections around 1985 or so. I have a feeling that they were trying to push the branding into more of a story-based area. Here are a few sheets of those…
Then in and around 1987 the folks at Trend decided to retire these stickers in lieu of a more updated set of stickers that were produced with the glossy finish. I’m not sure how many stickers were produced in this version 4 set, but I’ve been about to track down at least thirty seven, 35 of which are pictured below. Though the art style is similar in a lot of respects, you can tell they were using updated, more dynamic artwork with a more full-color aesthetic.
Hands down, Trend Enterprises Inc produced my favorite scratch and sniff stickers of the 80s. In researching this piece I also stumbled upon some crazy stories about the CEO, specifically a bitter divorce battle in 1984 where Kay Fredericks wrangled full control of the company from her husband, fell in love with her divorce attorney, and then ended up enabling that lawyer to take financial control over Trend to such an extent that he ended up embezzling millions of dollars from the company. Sometimes the true stories behind our favorite nostalgic items from the 80s are wilder than the actual items. Maybe someday someone will option the story and we’ll be treated to a Stinky Stickers movie.