By Request: Love’s Baby Soft, Canoe by Dana, and Camay

One of these days I will actually get to something that was released in this millennium. But Musette requested via FacePlace that I do Love’s Baby Soft, and it is always better in the scheme of things to do what Musette asks..

Love’s Baby Soft apparently was released in 1974, with some of the creepiest advertising ever known. I mean, look at this commercial: You know this would never pass muster today but you have to wonder how it ever did even then? 

I know this was the decade of David Hamilton and all, but this ad aired today would get the entire creative team on lists that would prevent them from moving within 1000 feet of a pre-school. As for the scent, the website describes it as “As soft and gentle as a kiss. It speaks in a powdery whisper, and is as cool and fresh as a gentle summer breeze.

Not having smelled a baby recently, if ever, I cannot say that this is a simulacrum of one. Or even if it’s a simulacrum of the ideal lollipop lickin’ Lolita of a group of admen after a 3 martini lunch. Unless ‘Lo smells of baby powder, play-doh, and feet.

In other words, Love’s Baby Stinks.

The same company was responsible for the nautical-themed scent Canoe. Canoe was launched in 1936 with notes (from fragrantica) of

Top notes: Lavender, Lemon and Clary Sage

Middle notes: Carnation, Bourbon Geranium, Cloves, Cedar and Patchouli

Base notes: Vanilla, Heliotrope, Tonka Bean, Oakmoss and Musk

Canoe was one that I actually did have a small bottle of when I was a teen for a very specific reason: I had a job after school for a year before college and there was a very difficult lady who worked there who liked it. It wasn’t my favorite, but I figured that if she did and it kept her happy, then it was money well spent. It did and it was. Upon leaving the job, I think I gave the bottle to another worker there and told him to wear it or pour it behind the sofa in the break room as he chose.

Which makes it sound like I hated it. I didn’t, but I had, and preferred Eau Sauvage, which kind of treads the same ground (or seemed to at the time) so why, I thought, keep both? Yes, that was me in my teens, yet to become the person who would not only keep it, but add to it. Because you never know. The bottle I purchased (after shave) off of eBay was marked “original formula”

Now granted mine is in a glass bottle and I have no idea of it’s age or condition- it could have lived in a cave since 1966 or been touring the Sahara on the dashboard of a VW bus since last election day for all I know. I get sort of lavender/sage/geranium and then not much else. But frankly I don’t remember the one I had fresh from wherever drug rather than department store I got it from (I’m sure it was more likely Serio’s than Steiger’s) being all that either. It’s not enough to make me want to toss it, but not enough to make me want to explore further.

And then there’s Camay.

Camay has been around forever seemingly. According to Wikipedia it was introduced in 1927 as a “white, pure soap for women” when other soaps were dyed to mask “impurities.” Camay was heavily advertised in the 70’s with women lovingly soaping their faces (or creepily, having them soaped)

with a look of bliss on their faces that really could only come if the bar was stamped “Rorer 714” and could back the claim up. (SNL did a hilarious parody ad of it, linked here) It also received a literary shout-out in Stephen King’s “The Shining” as a phantom smell Jack Torrance experiences in room 217 before he meets the former occupant. We didn’t have it in the house that I remember: we were more of an ivory soap kind of family, except for some perfumed French stuff that my mother kept in drawers as sachet and the exotic black facial bar we were not allowed to touch (a brand which I use to this day.) So I ended up choosing from eBay something called “Camay Clasico” in Spanish-language packaging, because it would A) get here in a reasonable amount of time and 2) perhaps be like Mexican Coca Cola and closer to the real thing.

Well it got here quickly.

I don’t know if this is the way it was back in the 70’s, but it certainly isn’t a white soap, it’s a creamy yellowy pink and very, VERY highly scented. Like a dozen roses dipped in Cherry Heering and a soupçon of cherry cough syrup. Or a bucketful. Now, I like cherries. I like them in dessert and I like them in some scents, but these are a little overboard. I needed to break up the 5 pack and separate them like they were nuclear waste in the pilot for “Space: 1999” lest they blow my little apartment out of orbit like Moonbase Alpha, so piercing was the scent. If I ever need to transport a dead body to it’s disposal site or a few kilos of something very illegal over the borders of the country I might be tempted to try packing it in Camay Clasico instead of ground coffee: my five bars were $10 and will no doubt have a scented half-life of plutonium. I doubt even the cheapest of Juan Valdez’ beans will beat either the price or the performance if covering the scent of questionable substances is your goal..

As for the performance as soap, well it’s soap. It happily didn’t leave me smelling like I’d been pickled like one of Mr Heering’s fruits but if it had ¼ cleansing cream I didn’t notice that translated to softer skin. I bought it. So I will use it, maybe keeping one bar around for when I cook fish to see if it will banish the cooking smell, or whether it just makes the place smell like Salmon Jubilee.

So what are the scents that bring you back? Let us know in the comments.

I purchased my bottles of Canoe and Love’s Baby Soft off of eBay. The Camay was bought on Amazon. Photo by me.



  • Musette says:

    Holy cats and crackers!!! HOW DID I MISS THIS POST!? I nearly choked to death, laughing!!! What a trip down memory lane – and yes, LBS was skeevyAF, wasn’t it? Yoiks!


  • Pam says:

    Omg, Tom, what a fun post! Hilarious! I remember Canoe. With fondness. My boyfriend wore it. We were 16. Camay—check. Neighbor kept it in her guest bathroom. But I never used Love’s Baby Soft. I wore L’Air du Temps. Haven’t smelled that one in years.

  • MizChris says:

    I think this Canoe ad is as bad as the Camay one…

  • Valerie says:

    Tom, you mentioned Steigers – – you must be from New England? I used to wait on old man Steiger & his entourage in Northampton, MA in ’83 or so…

    • Tom says:

      Actually I think that was the Steiger’s I used to go to. In one the malls in Hadley. More in the late 70’s tho

      • Valerie says:

        Yep, first the Mountain Farms Mall was built in ~’73?, then the Hampshire Mall went in next to it a few years later. (I’m from Ware – – “Where?” – – and went to UMass. Those malls were central to our limited teenaged social life.)

        • Tom says:

          I couldn’t remember which one was which. I do remember the “new” mall buried the “old” one. I think it even had a roller rink upstairs.

    • Martina Dinale says:

      Tom ( who I hve been friends with since he was sixteen ) is , like me , FROM Northampton ! And if you don’t mind my asking …. where was it that you were serving Steiger the Elder ?

      • Valerie says:

        At Hot Tomato’s on Crafts Avenue, which was on a side street off Main Street, just across from the side of what I think was the Noho City Hall. Kind of behind Thorne’s Marketplace & the amazing Paul and Elizabeth’s Restaurant and not far from the Academy of Music Theater. I lived in an apartment above Hot Tomato’s restaurant for about a year in ~1980 or so when it was still Andiamo. I might have waited on you and/or Tom at some point! (I waited on Art Garfunkel there one time, with his daughter & one of her friends from Smith. There he was – Angel Clare, right before my eyes!) What an awesum town! I try to visit every year when I see my family.

        • Tom says:

          Hot Tomato’s? I remember that! Good old Noho- the last time I was there was several years ago visiting with Martina. Still looks pretty much the same even though I’ve lived in LA longer than I did there.

          I didn’t know there was a Mr Steiger, or that he frequented Noho. Loved his store!

      • Tom says:

        Ha! Moo, I remember the fist time we really hung out. At the 3 County Fair on July 4th. We were snarky about the fireworks.

        Now that I’m frankly forty (props to Belle Poitrine) I’m much nicer..

  • Valerie says:

    This was such a fun review!
    As “Last of the Boomhicans” here, I well remember Love’s Baby Soft and Camay soap. I got a bottle of LBS from fragrancex last summer. It didn’t smell at all like what I remembered until ~the 5th spritz. (Maybe the stuff in the stem went bad?) It’s definitely reminiscent of the original my sisters & I drenched ourselves in from ’75 until we graduated to Enjoli & Emeraude after high school (when we began bringin’ home bacon & fryin’ it up in a pan, lmfao…). Those commercials were disgusting AF and we, as a culture, had zero-to-little ability to see how gross they were. If you’ve seen Stranger Things Season 2, the way the Hawkins Post douches treat Nancy Wheeler in 1984 was pretty much the way it was: “Be thin, pretty, and keep your trap shut” was the message…

    • Tom says:

      OMG the Enjoli commercial? I’d forgotten. But there was the ones for Charlie with Bobby Short, so that was something. Never seen “Stranger Things” guess I’ll have to fix that.

      • Valerie says:

        Omg, Tom, it’s fantastic! I’ve always disliked/avoided the horror genre and have never been into sci-fi, but this series grabbed me and I’m smitten. It’s on Netflix, and season 4 Part 1 drops on May 27th, then Part 2 will be available on July 1st. I’ve been waiting almost 2 years for this. So many fun 80’s references, products, tunes, plus a great story with tons of action, twists & turns and the hottest McHottie in the McHottieverse: David Harbour as Chief Jim Hopper…

        • Tom says:

          Well if it’s on Netflix then I am there!

          • Valerie says:

            Tom, many thanks to you & Martina for the walk down Noho Memory Lane. I lived on the Cape for 8 yrs, Monterey, CA for 17, & now in the DC area for 13, but Northampton will always have my heart as the best place I’ve ever lived. Thanks again for your hilarious, awesum review. xoxo

  • Purefume says:

    Tom, you win the internet again today! Your post had me rolling with those mega creepy commercials and the mention of Lolitas smelling of baby powder, play doh and feet, which pretty much sums up my mental olfactory image of a junior high locker room. Your old-school posts are so much fun. I’d buy the book if you turned this into a series!

  • Dina C. says:

    I remember the ads from all three of these when I was a kid or a teen. Don’t remember ever sniffing Canoe, but the notes sound nice. I seem to remember Camay soap being in our house as a kid. It did smell very strong and soapy + perfumey. But what I remember best is Love’s Baby Soft. I was right in that target demographic of Seventeen magazine reading gals who spritzed it on hoping to attract a boyfriend. I especially remember at the end of PE, how the girls’ locker room would be filled with clouds of LBS and Aqua Net and Rave hair spray (it was the 80s with all those gravity-defying hairstyles). You practically needed a gas mask to get through the miasma and out into the regular school hallways. Side note: my best friend carried a full-size can of hairspray in her purse and would duck into the restroom between classes to spray her hair. For me, I can’t think of Love’s Baby Soft without also smelling hairspray, gym clothes, sweat, and high school.

    • Tom says:

      At least they were trying. Trust me the boys (at least at that time) didn’t use anything. They had to be herded through the showers like cattle..

  • rosarita says:

    LBS is the smell of Jr high (no middle schools in those days) except I didn’t wear it, I liked Heaven Scent and Charlie, and my mom’s Revlon Ciara. And Norell, the first perfume I bought myself at the dime store, with hard won babysitting money. Those ads are awful, highlights of the era of baby doll pjs and baby blue eyeshadow. Sharp contrast to the bra burners.

  • March says:

    Man, you are really taking the hits for us, aren’t you?!?! I’m always stunned/amused by how creepy those ads were, ugh. I DEFINITELY wore Baby Soft, it was THE scent of middle school (along with musty lockers and cafeteria food), we all had our own small bottles so we could drench ourselves between classes … I smelled it again a few years ago and I still liked it, probably due to nostalgia. I moved on to Love’s Fresh Lemon which is marginally more interesting, I guess, but that’s a pretty low bar lol. Loved all your stories.

    • Tom says:

      Oh G-d, cafeteria food! How did we ever survive it? Sometimes I hitch up my old man pants at all these people who MUST have all these special diets. We were fed hot dogs made out of animal leavings and asbestos scrapings served after sitting in lukewarm water for 6 hours and we’d damned well have to like it.

  • cinnamon says:

    Your first paragraph :o) Love’s Fresh Lemon was mine. But I became really aware of wearing perfume in the mid-70s and through the end of high school it was patchouli oil, musk oil, rose oil from head shops (I might have tried honeysuckle too in college after hearing Dire Straits Espresso Love and layered it with the musk). That ad … no, it wouldn’t make it now and that’s a really really good thing.

    • Tom says:

      I didn’t know there were flankers (but of course there were- why not?) but yes, we had shops like that in my hometown with the various oils. I actually liked some of them, like rose and hyacinth but didn’t wear them in school, since a sign reading “please beat the snot out of me” would create the same effect, cheaper.

      I wonder what ads from today we will groan at 40 years from now?

  • Alityke says:

    Love’s Baby Soft wasn’t released in the UK but now I’m curious. Powder, playdoh & feet? Is the feet bit just perfume skanky or real cheesy “just worked 14hrs on an emergency ward” feet?
    I wonder if Avon’s Soft Musk is their version of LBS?
    Off to compare notes

    • Tom says:

      Just kind of perfume skanky. Well, maybe a little more. I initially was going to write “panties” but I thought it was a bit much and might rightfully garner the comment “like YOU would know?”

  • Portia says:

    What is Salmon Jubilee?
    Portia xx

  • Shiva-woman says:

    I’m watching the news (very sad, horrific) and reading this and laughing! But ewww, yikes. So Love’s Baby Soft original (I don’t know if there were flankers) was my 7th-8th grade (possibly 9th) scent of choice. I loved it! I can still smell it in my distant mental olfactory memory.
    This was also a time of Brook Shields whose jean ads horrified my mother who thought they were “sexualizing a child.”
    Well. I don’t remember the ads, probably because there was very limited TV viewing in our house, but the ones you link are CREEPY beyond belief. I can’t believe that aired! When I think of my formative years in the 70’s and 80’s it’s “Charlie” and it’s Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda and Mash with Hot Lips Houlihan. It’s Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton John, and Cher. I grew up with Gloria Steinem as a model–so those ads: omg. Yuck.
    But the scent was rather clean yet powdery. We all may be sick of laundry musk and clean, but Loves somehow bridged clean, laundry, powdery and musk.
    I think it also appealed to girls who were thinking about sex (me) but were not supposed to be thinking about sex (me). At some level that juxtaposition appealed, and I suspect is the underpinning, in part, for the discomfiting ad content now that I’m much older. Totally agree with your assessment. That would never TG fly today.

    • Tom says:

      Is this a LBS flanker? I’m not sure. Of course since it’s still sold it might not resemble the original or like the Canoe just be old. I remember the whole Brooke Shields thing but I remember it being more about “Pretty Baby” and the ick factor around all that- the jeans were just using on the cake. I remember Rhoda, and MTM, Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett, Maude, et al. The TV was good, but the ads were freak shows..

  • Jane E Karr says:

    British Sterling, Aramis, Hawaiian Surf, Nine Flags (all of them), L’air du Temps, Estee Lauder Youth Dew, Chantilly and Blue Grass.