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July 25th, 2000

The Sense of Smell

I’d say that moreso than any other sense, the sense of smell can be extremely evocative. I don’t usually have too many flashbacks associated with touch, sight, taste, or hearing, but in the last couple of days I’ve had some intense memory rushes related to smell. Yesterday morning when I walked into work, for some reason I was hit by this wave (though it was a subtle wave) that opened the floodgates for memories of Ms. Peterson’s Art class in elementary school. Then this morning as I was eating breakfast, I caught a whiff of the morning air that made me think of my early morning babysitting jobs I did during the summers of high school. A more common smell that triggers memories for me is the dirt-grass combo that reminds me of playing baseball in middle school (with separate, distinct smells representing evening practices and Saturday morning games).

I’ve read a number of places that smell is the most attached to memories, but I wonder why that is. Is it because humans have a sensitive sense of smell? If so, can you imagine a dog’s life? Nothing but memories! I’m curious to hear about how often others sense of smell brings back memories, specifically memories of childhood. -ram

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: Tony
DATE: Tuesday July 25, 2000 -- 11:08:14AM
I remeber a lady named Pam who used to cut my hair , as a kid. Now whenever I walk into a place where a smoker lives, or where smoke has lingered for a long time...I remeber getting my hair cut. Also (this is really odd) the smell when you go on one of those "Simulation" rides at theme parks, it has a funny smell, and I find the same smell in doctors offices, hospitals, and other places Im not sure if its a chemical , but it produces a smell , not many people seem to notice. Whenver I smell that, I think im waiting to get on one of those rides.

FROM: Robert
DATE: Tuesday July 25, 2000 -- 12:29:27AM
This reminds me so much of Adam Sandler's skit about the 60 year-old guys. "Holy jeez, I wanted to lick 'em!"

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday July 25, 2000 -- 1:54:29PM
A book I bought on Saturday smelled like Froot Loops. It was rather pleasant.

FROM: Old Fezziwig
DATE: Wednesday July 26, 2000 -- 9:26:16AM
I constantly have flashbacks to my childhood through smells that waft my way. I had one just the other day: the smell of chlorine was in the air and it reminded me of spending my summer days at the swimming pool. Then there's always the distinct smell of perfume that makes me think of past girlfriends. And of course there's always the smell of my grandma's spaghetti sauce cooking that reminds me of spending Sunday evenings eating dinner at her house.
On a side note, I have this strange ability to sniff a piece of new clothing and correctly guess which store it was purchased in. My family birthday parties are a hoot as you can imagine. (sarcasm)
-Old Fezz

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday July 26, 2000 -- 11:14:58AM
Wow, OF, that's quite a talent! I guess if you smell moth balls, that means you can narrow it down to thrift stores...

FROM: liz
DATE: Wednesday July 26, 2000 -- 1:29:12PM
i still can't wear plumeria from bath and body works; it reminds me of someone i was with one summer.

FROM: dave
DATE: Wednesday July 26, 2000 -- 8:34:07PM
I have similar smell memories...each town I have lived in has its own smell.

Speaking of smells, in this month's Yahoo! magazine they profile a little device called "Digiscents" where instructions on a CD or DVD-ROM will cue various scents to come out a of a peripheral device...I guess this makes four senses that are now interactive!

DATE: Tuesday May 29, 2001 -- 3:37:27PM
I read that, in Russia and the Ukraine, the scent of baking bread is used in some hospitals to help patients recover.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday May 29, 2001 -- 9:49:46PM
That's real aromatherapy... wow...

You know, I bet if hospitals weren't so sterilized feeling and had more hospitable (interesting connection with the words there) decor, that patients would recover more quickly.

FROM: Kitter
DATE: Thursday June 21, 2001 -- 8:02:40PM
I have allways remembered smells as a type of "photoalbum". It sounds wierd, but people dont know how much it means for some people.I have Multiple sclerosis and 5 years ago I lost all sense of smell and therefor all sense of taste. I often greive over my loss. With all the other symptoms of MS this is for me the worst. I love to bake cakes and cook, when my husbond comes home he coments on how lovely it smells, I could cry, I miss the smell flowers, newly cut grass, food and so many other things. Sometimes it can be good, but it can be dangerous too, I was close to burn the kitchen down. I sometimes fear I will forget the smells I have in my "photoalbum". Smells and taste is very importent for people, so spare a thought for us who dont have them, and never will have them again.

FROM: nimo
DATE: Sunday December 1, 2002 -- 5:19:03 pm
i am doing research on this topic how smell and memory are related. If anyone wants me 2 quote them email me at

I have had flashbacks of my own . whenever i am go to a bathroom i smell this familiar scent and i remember when i got into a fight in the bathroom for some reason .

FROM: john g
DATE: Thursday January 9, 2003 -- 7:51:40 pm

FROM: john
DATE: Thursday January 9, 2003 -- 7:52:32 pm
which kind of dog has the worst type of smell

FROM: vlm
DATE: Friday January 10, 2003 -- 11:16:54 am
john-- a wet dog who's been sprayed by a skunk and has halitosis?

Or was that not a riddle?

FROM: Scooter lund
DATE: Tuesday April 15, 2003 -- 5:18:18 pm

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 2:38:12 pm

What is this then?

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