What’s That Smell?

What’s That Smell?

What's That Smell? - Brace yourself!

What is it that draws a person to a game with a name like What's That Smell? Would I buy it for a party at my house? Probably not. Would I buy it to work on sensory goals with kids? I would definitely take a look. You know how some kids can be... the grosser the better.

Instructions in a nutshell - Start the timer, each player sniffs a different mystery whiff card and tries to guess the scent. Each player passes their card to the player on their left and does it all over again until the smell round is over. Best sniffer wins! Wow, this game stinks!

What's That Smell consists of 48 mystery whiff cards and four stank cards. The 48 whiff cards fall into seven different categories. Your job will be to whiff a card and decide what it is and which category it will fall into. Here are the seven categories and an example of smell from each:

  • Tutty fruity - bubble gum
  • Sweet stuff - almond paste
  • Spice it up - chili
  • Bloomin' fresh - cut grass
  • Smoke factor - barbecue
  • All things chemical - floor cleaner
  • Just plain stinky - bad breath

I took a whiff of several to see if they smelled like they were supposed to and I would say yes, pretty much. In addition to those 48 cards are 4 stank cards. Each stank card is sealed in its own individual plastic bag so the smells wouldn't waft out and overwhelm everything else in the box. Here are the scents: diaper blowout, hot chunky vomit, extra old toe cheese, and smothered in b.o. (body odor). Ranking them, the one I thought would be the least offensive to me was the "smothered in b.o." So I braced myself and took a quick, shallow whiff. It's really something how a quick whiff of a scent can conjure up an instant memory. I was transported back to my 8th year. My cousin and I were exploring an old shed behind my grandma's house. We found, among other things, a pinball machine. As cool as that was, we didn't stay long because the cat's had been in and out and it smelled strong like a cat box. Not exactly b.o., but bad enough. 

In the box are also 48 whiff strips (to scratch on the card to release the scent), six cardholders, and a pad of score sheets. Below is a pic of what is in the box:


Open card showing name of scent and point values.

There are very specific instructions on how to use the whiff sticks and how to store your cards to keep the scents from mixing in the box and to extend the life of your game. Instructions also offer three suggestions for resetting your sniffer between whiffs. If you have good olfactory memory, I would guess that after playing this game a time or two the mystery cards won't be much of a mystery to you any more.

BONUS - You can also download a free What's That Smell app. You don't need it to play, but it has some fun options like ways to earn extra points, a timer, and a Reek Cam to record the loser in slow motion as they take three big whiffs of a stank card.

BTW - For another mystery sensory game, try Bean Boozled by Jelly Belly. Based on taste instead of smell, with lots of surprise flavors. Check out my post about it HERE.


Score the highest points after the round ends.

Set up:

Give each player a mystery sniff card, a card holder, a score sheet, and a whiff strip. Players place their whiff cards in their holders. Set up a timer for 15, 30, or 45 seconds. Use the app as a timer if you have it.


Start the timer. Each player uses their whiff strip to release the scent on the card. Players each record on their sheet what they think the smell is, which of the seven smell categories it falls into, and a funny memory associated with the smell (if they have one) (see score card above). Identifying the smell correctly is worth 5 points, but there is also a second answer that is less specific that is worth 3, and other options on the app, if you use it. My guess is that you will need the full 45 seconds to do all of this. When the timer goes off, everyone passes their card with holder to the person on the left. Start the timer again and repeat. Keep going until all cards have made the round. If you are playing with three people, there will be three cards to the round. If you are playing with six people, there will be six cards, etc. When the round is over, tally the scores and the winner gets to pick a stank card for the loser, who must take three big whiffs. Have some smelling salts standing by.

Try this:

  • Skip the game, just use the mystery whiff cards and whiff strips for scratching. Pick a few cards that the individual is likely to encounter in their daily routine. Show the name on each card and ask the individual to rate them from best (I would hesitate to use the word "worst"). Why attach a label to something that may not be that offensive? Start whiffing from best and work your way through the samples. 
  • Don't force or surprise anyone with an offensive smell in therapy. 
  • Ask the individual to help you choose the smells you will work with in therapy. Common, least offensive smells will be a good place to start.
  • Present a smell briefly, then work your way up to longer exposure times.
  • Have the real thing available, if you have it, like grass, chili, sunscreen. Compare the smells, are they similar? Engage other senses with the real thing.

In the box: 48 mystery whiff cards, 4 stand cards with bags, 6 card holders, 48 whiff strips, score pad

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