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For every movie or television series, a good set designer is necessary to create a believable world with the use of scenery and, often, special effects as well. It might not always be raining when the plot calls for it – or snowing – and there may be other times when a scene calls for bright sunshine.

Of course, that’s not all that a set designer does. Basically, they build the entire set for the film or show, just like the popular hit Gilmore Girls. The WB drama famously took place in the fictional New England town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, but was filmed in sunny California.

'Gilmore Girls' cast members Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore standing in a snowy Stars Hollow
Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore | Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Lorelai’s love of snow was a recurring theme throughout the show

Lorelai Gilmore had a love for snow which was mentioned multiple times throughout the series. In fact, the single mom had so many memorable quotes regarding her affection for snow that fans are still repeating them to this day.

According to Fandom, one of Lorelai’s most iconic lines was, “Everything’s more magical when it snows. Everything looks pretty.” In fact, she was so obsessed not only with snow but with the smell of it and actually had her daughter Rory convinced that her ability to do so was unique only to her.

How did she do this? By telling a young Rory that all the best things in life, including when Rory was born, happened when it was snowing. Naturally, Rory believed her mom, and the rest was history. 

A tour guide revealed mashed potato flakes were used to look like snow was falling from the sky

It was supposed to snow pretty much every winter in the town of Stars Hollow, and the set designers needed to make it look as natural as possible. How did they manage to do this without actual snow? One of the most popular, most basic kitchen staples was used.

Nearly early every time Lorelai said, “I smell snow,” a tour guide on the Warner Bros lot revealed that Lauren Graham was really smelling mashed potato flakes that were used to look like snowflakes falling from the sky. So even though she wasn’t actually smelling snow, the scent was pretty good, and millions of viewers never would’ve guessed that it wasn’t real.

What other types of fake snow have filmmakers used in the past?


‘Gilmore Girls’: Could Lorelai Really Smell Snow?

Of course, mashed potato flakes aren’t the only type of fake snow used in movies and in television shows. According to the website Mesothelioma, asbestos has been used quite a bit in the past; however, this can be considered quite dangerous and can lead to serious illness. As an alternative, white-colored cornflakes were used, but they were much less realistic.

At one point in time, cotton was substituted for snow until a firefighter pointed out the dangers of having something flammable on a movie set. Nowadays, according to the website Central Casting, there are several methods of creating that magical, snowy look that so many viewers love.

In addition to the Gilmore Girls’ use of mashed potato flakes, filmmakers and set designers can use white woven snow blankets, especially for areas that are far away from the camera. Another alternative is to use a soap-based, foam-like substance that looks like snow when it is blown from a machine. Visual effects are used at times. However, it is limited in its use and extremely expensive, which is why most turn to other methods first.