Cartoon comprehension on a hot August day

From Bob Eckstein:


What do you need to know to understand this (wordless) cartoon and why people might find it funny?

Easy stuff: you need to recognize that the cartoon is set in a subway car, and (given the way the guy on the left is dressed) that it’s warm, probably summertime.

Hard thing: you need to recognize the green tree thing hanging on the middle guy’s neck.

The crucial bit is recognizing the Little Tree air freshener for cars.

Bob Eckstein sent this out to honor Commuter Week at WNYC Radio. So this is not just any subway car, but one in NYC. And right now high temperatures on the two coasts are in the 80s and 90s, so the hipster-cool commuters in Bob’s cartoon are probably sweating heavily and turning the car into Armpit City. Quick, Henry, the Little Tree!

From Wikipedia:


Little Trees are disposable air fresheners shaped like a stylized evergreen tree, marketed for use in motor vehicles, and most commonly seen hanging from rear-view mirrors. They are made of a specially formulated absorbent material produced in a variety of colors and scents.

Little Trees were invented in 1952 in Watertown, New York, by Julius Sämann, a German-Jewish chemist and businessman who had fled the Nazis. He had studied Alpine tree aromas in the forests of Canada and was interested in the technology used to transport and disseminate them. Little Trees air fresheners are manufactured in the United States by the Car-Freshner Corporation at factories (such as Royal Pine) in Watertown, New York and DeWitt, Iowa. Several companies in Europe produce Little Trees under license from Julius Sämann Ltd. using the names Wunder-Baum (in Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden) and Arbre Magique (in France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain). The company is known for pursuing lawsuits to protect its trademark.

If it works for automobiles, why not for subway cars?

One Response to “Cartoon comprehension on a hot August day”

  1. chrishansenhome Says:

    The Style Invitational, the Washington Post weekly wit competition, refers to entries that are printed as “inks”. Those who enter and are printed for the first time are referred to as “fir-stinks”. The prize for a “fir-stink” is a fir tree car air freshener, which the Empress of the Style Invitational (aka Pat Myers) warns the lucky winner not to open on pain of being stunk out of their room.

    There is a Facebook page devoted to the denizens of the Style Invitational, called “Style Invitational Devotees”. The humour is slightly (or even heavily) off-colour sometimes, but wordplay, poetry, quirky news, and general merriment are encouraged.

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