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Scented bowling balls make one company stand out from the rest

October 9, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Journal Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

First off today, check the date at the top of the page. Really, it isn't April Fools Day.

So believe me when I say some bowling balls smell fruity or chocolatey, much better than industrial grease, cigarette smoke or stale beer you might expect from the old days at the "bowlin' alley."

These are some new-fangled scents, like vanilla citrus, wild mint leaf and warm maple syrup.

When it comes to mid- and high-priced balls from Storm, a leading manufacturer, these aromas come standard - as in you can't buy one of these balls without also getting a distinctive odor.

Bowling balls start out as a "goop" poured into a mold, so it's easy to add a concentrated scent of grape or cherry, which is what company founder Bill Chrisman did on a trial basis more than a decade ago.

I remember an Associated Press story that came out about Storm from around that time, and Chrisman said that after working for a cleaning products company, he understood the importance of scents. You don't think Pine-Sol makes your kitchen smell like the middle of a forest by accident, do you?

It became an easy way for Storm to stand out from other manufacturers, and Chrisman said sales increased because of this. Storm has a patent on producing scented balls, so apparently no one else can do this.

I did a little digging on the Internet, mostly on Storm's site, to get more information.

The scents aren't random. Each ball has its own specific aroma, and that's no small feat, considering that right now Storm has about two dozen distinct balls in its current line, and has put out about 10 times that many going back to the 1990s. Not all have a scent and some common ones like cherry have been repeated.

If you want the vanilla citrus smell, you better order a Lucid; for the wild mint leaf, a Vivid; and if you can't live without a ball that smells like warm maple syrup, order a Victory Road.

Some scents are more mundane, like the blueberry-smelling Manic or the grape-smelling Master Domination, but others seem fairly out there, like the apple crisp smell of the IQ Tour Edition, the pina colada scent of the Fringe and the birthday cake aroma of the Tropical Breeze.

I didn't own a Storm ball until about three years ago, and now I have two. Trust me, I didn't get them because of the scent, but despite it.

The first one, the Invasion, smells like "mulberry" according to Storm, but to me smells annoyingly like kids' fruity bubble gum. It isn't really pervasive; in fact, you have to stick your nose pretty close to the ball to really smell it.

But that first summer I had the Invasion, I stored it in my car trunk in a fully zipped-up bag. Despite that, after I had my car closed up for a day or two, the bubble gum smell was readily apparent when I got in. Not just in the trunk, but even in the passenger compartment.

The stronger smell wears off fairly quickly, but it makes a good conversation piece.

My only complaint about Storm's strategy is why it doesn't do this with their lightweight balls for kids. They would be the ones who'd really get excited about all this.

Can you see your 6- or 8-year-old nagging you to get them that new orange-chocolate-smelling ball to go with 37 others of varying scents? That's where I think the real money would lie with this.

Ah well, let's move onto the sweet smell of success, as in the first Mining Journal Bowler of the Week honorees.

Not everyone sent me candidates, so remember, all a bowler needs is a nine-game average from this year, or failing that, an average from last year to base the pins-over-average numbers on.

The men's winner is Wayne Ross of the Thursday Marquette General Hospital League at Superior Lanes. He was 155 pins over his 185 average with a 688 series on games of 226, 259 and 203.

Next came Corey Harman of the Tuesday Night Mixed at Superior for shooting 747, a plus-141 from his 202 mean that included a 288 game. And in third is Terry Kirkum of the MGH league for a plus-136 effort with 705 that included 265 and 261.

For the women, Superior Lanes' Wednesday Industrial secretary Hope Virch was the winner at 107 pins over her 166 average with 605 on 192, 207 and 206.

Leaguemate DeAnna Maki shot 82 over her 118 average on a 436 with games of 151, 124 and 161.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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