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longgone's avatar

Which smells remind you of your childhood?

Asked by longgone (7217 points ) 1 month ago

Sunscreen reminds me of family vacations. The smell of cherry cake baking reminds me of my dad. My mum’s perfume reminds me of being hugged, and the smell of play-dough is special to me, too. My most nostalgia-inducing childhood smells are (sadly) mothballs and fried silk worms. I lived in South Korea for a while, and because the smells there are ones I haven’t been exposed to very often since then, they remain extremely powerful.

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40 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Beef stew.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Vinegar. Fried chicken gravy. Cut grass. The smell of the ocean. Playdough. Skunks.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Wonderful question. Line dried sheets, baking smells (mom’s brownies), lavender, lilacs.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Old Spice.

zenvelo's avatar

Pumpkin Pie.

Maple Syrup.

And, in a not so good way, liver and onions.

dxs's avatar

My grandmother’s salsa with meatballs and sausage.

muppetish's avatar

The scent of my toys: play-doh, colorforms, crayons, and puzzles. Damp earth also makes me nostalgic from when I played in the backyard after the sprinklers stopped or just after a rain to look for rocks and snails. There are certain scents that I can’t really explain that take me back.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

4711 reminds me of my mother. I don’t know why because she died when I was young but I have the vaguest recollection that she may have worn this. I’ve often thought I should buy some just to mentally ‘go back’. The smell of lamb stew cooking reminds me of my father. Fresh tomatoes remind me of my dad since he was an avid gardener and always had great success with tomatoes. Pipe tobacco too but I don’t smell that often these days – who smokes a pipe. I can’t think of anything else right now.

hominid's avatar

My grandfather was a house painter and smoked cigarettes. There are times when I smell oil-based paint and Marlboros that I am instantly brought back to being 6 years old, when he’d take me in his painting van to go get ice cream.

gailcalled's avatar

Burning autumn leaves, now illegal. It was a week-end ritual in the fall. My father used to rake huge piles, let my sister, brother and me roll around a little, and then torch them. Everyone else in the neighborhood did it also. I am amazed that we weren’t all asphyxiated.

My paternal grandmother’s sweet and sour cabbage/tomato soup with flanken (a form of short ribs). Her gribens, – chicken skin and onions sautéed in chicken fat until brown and crispy.

Adagio's avatar

Fresh mown grass and onion weed. Also one particular book smell, it takes me right back to my early childhood and the hours spent at the local library.

Araphel's avatar

Sugar, spice, and everything nice! But that was my past life ;)

majorrich's avatar

The smell of a traditional Japanese market may not be as pleasant to Americans, but the smell brings back vivid memories of my youth. I can’t describe it adequately but you’ll know it when you smell it. Probably not so much in Japan any more. (The old “you can never go home) perhaps in poorer sections of Asia.
My Dad’s Old Spice. Smells different when I wear it. But I carry on.

cookieman's avatar

Cigars
my grandfather

Aftershave
my father

Alcohol/Booze
my uncle

Cigarettes
my mother

Also:
Cut Flowers remind me of my other uncle’s flower shop.

That blue antiseptic liquid used to keep combs clean reminds me of my aunt’s barbershop.

Certain grapes remind me of the homemade wine our landlord made in wooden barrels.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

manure, cow and chicken, hay, earth, and a barn at nighttime in the winter. That is an awesome experience.

ibstubro's avatar

Farts. Followed by elimination. Glorious.

Baby oil, obviously.

Sourness (as I was left to my own devices a lot, not that I minded).

Caramel. (burned sugar, perhaps?)

JLeslie's avatar

Moth balls reminds me of my grandma’s closet.

Honeysuckle flowers remind me of vacations in the Catskill Mountains.

Pipe tobacco reminds me of my grandpa.

talljasperman's avatar

Honey comb cereal, and real honey combs.

johnpowell's avatar

Old Spice. My grandpa reeked of it.

One time we found some abandoned kittens and my grandpa had a lactating cat. He put some Old Spice on the mom and the kittens. Apparently that was enough for the kittens and mom to attach. The smell convinced her that the kittens were hers.

janbb's avatar

Skunk – reminiscent of drives home through the countryside late at night.

Stinley's avatar

Pipe tobacco – my grandfather used to smoke a pipe and I always knew if my grandparents were round as soon as I came in the door

Buttonstc's avatar

Unfortunately, cigarette smoke. I had to live with two chain smoking parents. Car rides were the worst.

On a brighter note: the smell of seaweed, barnacles crabs and salt water. Our backyard was right on the edge of a large creek and our road dead-ended into Great South Bay so we were literally a stones throw away.

I would be out in my rowboat every day, weather permitting.

zenvelo's avatar

The smell of stale coffee and cigarettes takes me right back to fifth grade.

Mrs. Renner had penmanship every day right after lunch, and stopped by each desk in the class. She had always just had 45 minutes of cigarettes and coffee.

ibstubro's avatar

Oh, come on, who doesn’t associate the smell of “poo” with being a child. Or did I go too infantile?

Adagio's avatar

@ibstubro Infantile? Just a tad brother, just a tad.

talljasperman's avatar

KFC. dark meat.

downtide's avatar

Freshly sawn wood. Because my dad was a carpenter and I would spend long hours with him in his shed watching him work and playing in the sawdust.

Kismet's avatar

Grape soda, it reminds me of when I would show sheep in 4H and my friend and I would go to this little country store and buy soda after we took care of our sheep.

A certain book smell, because I used to be a avid reader and simply LOVED the library (ah, what happend?).

The smell of paved street after it rains, I used to run around outside with my friends all the time on our bikes/scooters and we would spend hours on the street.

I’m sure there are more. . .

dxs's avatar

I second that book smell @Kismet mentioned. I think I remember the same exact one. From what I can remember, it came from certain paperbacks.

Kismet's avatar

@dxs Yeah! And you’d flip through the book quickly just to get a hint of the smell. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ah. Grape soda. Yes. For the road trips our family took. If you wanted to ride up front all you had to do was throw up. Then your folks would stop and get a grape soda for you and you got to ride up front because they thought you had motion sickness and riding up front cures it.
Never understood how those glass bottles didn’t break when they slammed down through the pop machine chute.

muppetish's avatar

Book smells definitely bring me back :) Sometimes I wander through the library and pick out a random, old book and deeply inhale it for a nostalgia high.

Water rides at Disney land also make me nostalgic. The way the water smells… I don’t know what it is, but it always brings me back to being a kid and riding Pirates of the Caribbean.

zenvelo's avatar

Madeleines baking.

Oh wait, Proust posted that over 100 years ago.

Kardamom's avatar

Coffee percolating, and bacon frying, and propane from the stove at my Grandparent’s house.

Wet cement on a hot summer day.

A campfire, and pine trees, from where we used to go camping.

Turkey roasting on Thanksgiving.

The combined scents of fishsticks, meatloaf and mashed potoes from the school cafeteria. A lot of people hate the smell of the school cafeteria, but I love it.

Sea and Ski suntan lotion, and the ocean.

Motor oil, and sawdust in my Uncle’s musty old workshop.

The combined scents of BBQ, roasted corn on the cob, hot dogs, and cotton candy, mixed with dirt, and fresh hay, and cow patties at the county fair.

I don’t think it’s used anywhere now, but the purple ink from the mimeograph copy machine.

Whatever the coolant is, that’s used in ice skating rinks. It has a very distinct, some would say unpleasant, scent. I love that smell.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I love the ice rink smell too K. The first time I smelled it was what the hell is that? Now I love it. :)

Kardamom's avatar

Yeah, I can’t quite describe it. It’s sorta like the very faint scent of propane and sort of like smog, but it’s very faint. I smelled it twice in the last month, because it’s been so darned hot out here, even though I don’t have any skates (a problem I am aiming to remedy) I took a book and sat in the ice rink for an hour, just to cool down. It was wonderful. When I opened the door to the rink, that blast of cold air, mixed with the scent of the coolant sent me into a very nice place.

Kardamom's avatar

@Dutchess_III Would that be one of them hymen breaking horses?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Twould, actually! LOL! LOLLLL!

longgone's avatar

Thanks, I’m loving this thread!!

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