P&G : Old Spice Classic

Created by : Unknown

Date : 1938

Genre : Spicy oriental

Concentration : cologne

The SS America (1908), an Italian liner for Navigazione Generale Italiana, brought my grandparents and their two children from Naples to Ellis Island (New York) in 1923.  With them, the liner brought their traditions – incredible Italian cooking, the importance of family celebrations and the Italian tradition of men wearing fragrance.  The very first men’s cologne I ever smelled was from an empty bottle of Old Spice that my grandfather gave me.  Oddly, the bottle was not the iconic white bottle that we all know but one that was modeled after a Bavarian beer mug and it was painted silver so it must have been some kind of special edition.  I kept it for at least 10 years, occasionally removing the cap to smell what was a beautiful, clean manly fragrance.  It seemed like such an adult thing to do.  So grown-up!

And so when the Old Spice Man starting popping up on my screen, I ran out and bought a bottle of Old Spice Classic cologne.  At $14.65 Cdn. for a 125 ml. bottle, I figured… let’s have fun and test it.  The opening notes reminded me of the aftershave that my barber splashes on the back of my neck and if your barber owns a red, white and blue barber’s pole, you probably know what I’m talking about.  Old Spice Classic has a bracing and astringent opening kick to it with an orange, clove and cinammon accord that hints to something antiseptic.  The orange topnote is the most fleeting while the cinammon note lingers the longest.  The heart is vaguely floral which makes complete sense for the time it was created.  My colleagues at work couldn’t figure out whether it was a masculine or a feminine and that’s because today’s masculines are so hairy-knuckled and anchored in heavy woody notes that when we are presented with anything floral we immediately think of feminine fragrance.  The base is vanilla, musk and amber which places it squarely in the oriental family but it actually has an enduring lightness to it.  It seems to stay close to the skin and has outlasted several eau de toilettes that I own, so its lasting power is excellent for a cologne concentration, which is usually around 5% aromatic compounds.  Unfortunately, Old Spice Classic ends on a sweet musc and this is probably the part I like the least… but at this price, I’m not complaining.

Old Spice will never be in my top ten but if ever my collection went up in flames due to spontaneous perfume combustion and the white iconic bottle survived, I’d wear it happily for a week or two until I my insurance money kicked in to replace my stash.

Now… we’ve all seen that hilarious Old Spice commercial but, being a librarian, this parody grabbed my attention.


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  1. Linda

     /  July 28, 2010

    Love it :o)

  2. Thea

     /  March 21, 2011

    Can you tell me what kind of cologne your father wore? I’m doing research and looking to see what kind of cologne second-generation Italian-American men wore. Was that also Old Spice or nothing at all?

    Thank you.

    • Hi,

      You’re doing research on perfume and Italian-Americans? That’s very interesting! My 1st generation Italian-Canadian grandfather (came over in 1924 via Ellis Island, New York… then to Montreal) wore Old Spice.

      My 2nd generation Italian-Canadian father wore Eau Sauvage.

      Hope this helps!


  3. Wow. I typed in SS America and this is what came up. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it was very interesting. It just so happens that in 1913, the SS America took my great-grandfather from Palermo to Ellis Island. Weird how everything has something related to it. I’m doing some research on the SS America, so that’s why I typed it in.

    • Hi!

      Well… good luck with your research on the SS America! There were several ships with the same name so it can be confusing. I assume that you checked the Ellis Island website and checked the manifest. The particular SS America that brought your great-grandfather from Palermo (and my grandfather from Naples) was scrapped in 1928.

      Once again, good luck with your research and thanks for writing!


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