Memories from Smell...

I’m not talking gym-locker sweatsocks, now! I was wondering what smells can INSTANTLY transport you back. Like the smell of crayons or play-dough, for example, probably pulls you back to some point in your childhood. I had a plastic army jeep (matchbox scale) with a distinct smell. I haven’t smelled it in decades. One day, BAM! I’m pulled back to a time playing with my “Matchbox cars”.

Any takers dare to bare and share? (No need for lusty stories, here…just a “G”-rated fun question, people!)

And, oh yeah, “Have a Smurfy Day!” :slight_smile:

  • Jinx

I don’t know what the exact smell is but when it gets cold up north there is a certain smell that goes along with it. It used to signal the start of winter which meant snow and snow days off from school. Now that I live in Florida I don’t really smell it much but a few weeks ago I went to NJ and caught wind of it. It made me very very happy. My fiancee thought I was a nut. Actually, she still does.

The smell of a certain kind of vinyl brings me back to the days of playing with Glo-Friends, my favorite toys for a while during the phase in my life when imagination truly ruled my free time. Honestly, I can smell it now just thinking about it.

And pezpunk, I absolutely know the cold smell you’re thinking of; it’s another one on my short list.

In fact, it recently found my nose, and just an hour ago snow started falling here in Vermont.

I remember reading somewhere that your olfactory sense is more closely linked to your memory than any of the other senses. For me, walking into any grade school cafeteria and smelling that awful amalgam of canned fruit and govt. cheese immediately takes me back. I look down and expect to see knee-socks poking out from beneath a plaid skirt. :slight_smile:

That crisp, earthy smell of dying leaves and cool winds in the fall (like right now) always reminds me of soccer games back in HS. Sometimes, I kneel down and inhale the scent of drying soil and dying grass and can almost taste the sweat from those distant games.

Also, the smell of opium (real opium, not that crappy soapium smell they put in incense) transports me. I smell it and start to look around for all my old college buddies before I realize where, and when, I am.

the smell of castor oil pre-mix burning reminds me of a family trip to the motocross races long ago. my 2 older brothers were racing and i can remember it to this day…(this had to be around 1971)

still one of my favorite smells today! i use this expensive oil in my chainsaws and weedeaters just for the smell!

The smell of vinegar always makes me think of dying Easter eggs when I was a little kid. We used the kits from the store with the little pills that you dropped in water to make the color and the whole kitchen would reek of vinegar by the time we were through.

I can take pictures and record sounds, but it makes me so sad when I think about how there’s no way to save a smell forever.

I thought this was kind of interesting:

One day at work, a woman walked past our work area. After she had passed, I told my co-worker that the woman was wearing the exact same perfume as a grammar school teacher I had. So this would have been years and years before.

The next day, my co-worker told me he had mentioned my memory experience to his wife. His wife claimed that the scent could not have been the same, even if it was the same perfume brand. She explained to him that perfume companies change their scents every few years. Is this true?

The thing is, I couldn’t describe the scent, not can I recollect it now. Or then for that matter. How would this experience be explained? It’s such an arbitrary thing to remember about someone.

By the way, wouldn’t this make a great perfume ad?!

pezpunk, I totally understand what you’re talking about! The smell of winter, I mean - here in Mississippi I haven’t smelled it but when I ran away to Buffalo last month I smelled the cold in the air…

White Shoulders. It was the only scent that my aunt could wear because of allergies. I remember that aroma throughout her house when I was a kid, especially in her bedroom.


The smell of Finness hairspray always reminds me of high school. Really - I used a tonne of the stuff.

My dad was a sign painter. When I was little, his office, up until about a year before he died, was in our basement.

I am immediately transported back to circa 1964-1965 when I smell paint, the aerosol type. No, I don’t huff it. I just love the aroma from a distance. He died when I was six, and to this day that smell evokes his memory.

I also love the smell of cutting oil. My first husband worked at the same place I did, but worked at the saws. They used cutting oil for them. I remember that smell from him and how much I adore it to this day, although I DON’T adore him to this day. My present husband also worked there, and for a time also ran the saws, so his clothes had that same smell.

Actually, it’s somewhat of an aphrodisiac for me, now that I think about it. :wink:

I also love the smell of Baby Magic Lotion. It reminds me of when my children were newborns, and how sweet and delicate they were. One whiff of that and it makes me forget they’ve turned into big kids. Well, for a minute, anyway…

Most smells linked to memories I don’t remember until it hits me. It’s always something weird anyway. Like the other day I tried a Oxy acne pad for the first time in ages and whoa! All my high school days came rushing back at me.

My favorite example of this memory/smell phenomenon was put forth by Robert Anton Wilson. “Have sex on freshly cut lawn someday and you’ll mow the lawn with an erection for the rest of your life.”

Pardon my French.

The first thing that leapt to mind is the smell of blueberry muffins baking. Whenever I smell them, I instantly think of Saturday mornings, watching cartoons, running into the kitchen on the commercials to see if they’re ready to eat yet.

The smell of leather always reminds me of my old baseball glove and playing ball with the neighbor kids or on the school team.

Those are the only two smells I can associate with a memory right now. Usually I have to smell it and then the memory connection is made.

The market we would shop at when I was a kid had their own bakery where they would produce fresh bread and pastries…the scent of that used to fill the air. Mmmmmmmmmmm…
At this same market, they used to stock Playboy on their magazine rack. I would occasionally sneak peeks when my mom wasn’t watching.

Whenever I enter a store with that same fresh pastry scent wafting in the air, I think of nekkid chicks.

The smell of Revlon lipstick reminds me of high school - it was the brand everyone used.

This is mighty specific, but the smell of a chunk of cheddar cheese sliced with the same knife used to chop garlic reminds me of taco night with my mom. After I moved away from home (from Chicago to Boston) for the first time, I was making tacos and used the same knife that I chopped garlic with to slice a piece of cheese to snack on. I was so homesick when I smelled it that I sat down on the kitchen floor and cried.

On a happier note, I picked up my son at his afterschool program the other day, and the tree outside had dropped its seed pods, these long, brown seed pods with a very distinctive smell. The same trees were outside of my grammar school, and the smell of them instantly took me back to seventh grade. It was awesome.

Diesel fumes always remind me of the state fair. Every time the smell whiffs by me that’s my first thought.

Not that tobacco is cured the same way now, but the smell of cured tobacco in the barn takes me back to my childhood and life on the farm. Those were the carefree days.

Throughout my childhood my family would order a couple of pizzas from our local take-out pizzaria (Vince’s Pizza), and every time my Dad and I walked in we were instantly engulfed in the warm smell of freshly baked pizza.
And now, decades later, every time I walk into my local Aurelio’s Pizza, I am thrust back to those earlier times.
I can’t wait to be a Dad so I can take my own kids to pick up pizzas.

I came across another one today: a diesel engine in need of a tuneup makes me think of the old (I mean OLD) tractor on gramps’s farm in Indiana. He used to let me sit on his lap and steer while he drove it through the pasture. My uncle would be in the wagon tossing flakes of hay to the cows and sheep. Sometimes I’d ride in the back and help him and the smell of the exhaust was even stronger. I really miss that.

Great smells bring back so many memories … like when you dip a little cookie into tea, just like my aunt used to … man, I could write volumes on the subject.