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J0E's avatar

Do you have certain smells that bring back memories?

Asked by J0E (13172points) September 7th, 2009

Smell is often called the sense tied most closely to human memory, profoundly influencing people’s ability to recall past experiences. Is there anything that when you smell it you immediately make the connection to a past event or situation?

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32 Answers

jamielynn2328's avatar

My dad used to tool around the garage smelling like oil and big red gum. Not that I smell those two things in combination often, but it brings me right back to being pigtailed, and 3 feet tall.

serendipity's avatar

I’m from NY, so anytime I smell cheap hot dogs (or dirty water franks as it’s affectionately known) makes me think of NY and standing around with my dad getting some hot dogs.

five99one's avatar

The Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce spray reminds me of my friend, because he wears it all the time.

J0E's avatar

I suppose I should weigh in on my own question. The smell of pine trees always brings me back to when my family would go out and cut down a Christmas tree. Fresh cut grass makes me remember playing little league baseball every summer.

Facade's avatar

The perfume I’m wearing reminds me of the summer my man and I met… Best summer of my life by far.

DominicX's avatar

Everybody always talks about how much smell brings back memories for them and how powerful it is. It just doesn’t do that for me. I must be weird. Music brings back memories for me, sights bring back memories for me, but not smells.

J0E's avatar

@DominicX Yeah, not many smells bring back memories for me either, but the ones that do are very strong and vivid. I have a few music related ones too.

eponymoushipster's avatar

The smell of a school lunchroom at school reminds me of 11 wasted years.

JLeslie's avatar

Sure. Crayons from childhood, certain foods when they are cooking, fresh cut grass to name a few.

rebbel's avatar

The smell of strawberries make me think of strawberries.
Penicilin and anti-lice-lotion brings me back to when i was five.
Standing in the kitchen on a chair in front of the mirror, with my mother behind me putting the lotion in.

Jude's avatar

Dolce and Gabbana’s ladies perfume – The One. I bought it for my girlfriend for her birthday. I remember her putting it on that night and that smell…After dinner, I’d get an opportunity to smell that amazing scent intensely while I was kissing her neck.

Bri_L's avatar

Totally. Certain food reminds me of hot lunch in grade school. There is a perfume that I don’t know the name of that reminds me of one old girl friend and one for another.

gggritso's avatar

For me it’s a smell that I can’t identify. It’s a certain mixture of cardboard, ink and some kind of magic. All I know is that it smells like Pokemon Pogs and it gives me flashbacks of being 10. Breaks my heart.

jonsblond's avatar

That certain fishy smell that comes from bodies of water always reminds me of my favorite family vacation spot, lakeside in northern Wisconsin.

The smell of coffee reminds me of my grandfather. good memories

Supacase's avatar

Original Palmolive dish liquid reminds me of my grandma’s kitchen when I was a child.

Original Lysol spraytakes me right back to my first daycare when I was 3. I hated that place. :(

There is some kind of tree that smells like semen. Don’t know what it is, but it reminds me of riding around, windows down and hair blowing, with my boyfriend in his blue truck when I was about 16.

The smell of Doritos is exactly what the feet of a girl in my HS gym class smelled like. The odor filled the entire locker room.

knitfroggy's avatar

The smell of ‘Lectric Shave reminds me of my grandpa. There is an older gentleman at work that smells like that and I hug him everyday because it makes me think of my Pops.

Also the smell of Love’s Baby Soft Perfume makes me think of Christmas because I used to get it for Christmas as a kid.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Pine trees, pine wood logs burning, rain on dirt and wet horses.

gailcalled's avatar

@Supacase : Tree might be the female Ginko. Its fruit has a disgusting smell. Most people plant the male.

I have always loved the scent of the wind blowing from the SW over a fresh water lake. There is an aroma that takes me back to camp in Maine when I was a youngster.

Darwin's avatar

The smell of Aqua Velva reminds me of my marine science teacher in 11th grade, and from there my memories of going to the Bahamas on our field trip.

The original smell of Old Spice reminds me of my paternal grandfather, while the smell of wet cigars reminds me of my maternal grandfather.

The smell of the ocean doesn’t remind me of a particular place or event because I have spent so much time simply messing about in boats. However, it immediately relaxes me and makes me feel good.

“There is nothing— absolutely nothing— half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” – Ratty, Wind in the Willows

AstroChuck's avatar

This question has been asked here before. My answer’s the same. Whenever I’m near someone that is wearing Youth Dew (by Estée Lauder) I think of my late grandmother, the same grandma that Mother’s Iced Raisin cookies makes me think of.

WhoReallyKnows's avatar

Absolutely it does, the memory ties that are triggered by the olfactory ( sense of smell ) portion of the brain can bring back a flood of memories even from early childhood in the elderly. It is one of the strongest memory ties we have. Coincidentally, one of the early signs of Alzheimer disease and other brain disorders is the lack of ability to smell or make connections between smell and memory of the cause.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Rain on hot asphalt takes me back to my childhood. Also, the smell of a dusty window screen, the smell of fresh cut grass, and the smell of a wood fire reminds me of all those nights camping out when I was a youngster.

jonsblond's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Rain on hot asphalt. Nice. I remember that growing up in Vegas. Thanks for the memory. :)

zephyr826's avatar

When my second cousin got married, she used stargazer lilies in the floral arrangements. They have a very strong aroma, and that was the first time I had ever smelled them. The second time was at my cousin’s funeral. She had been flower girl in the wedding, and there were a lot of stargazers in the funeral arrangements. Now I can’t stand them. If they appear in a bouquet I’ve received, I’ll remove them. I wonder if I’ll ever get over it.

christine215's avatar

The smell of frying hot peppers in oil will always make me think of my grandmother… I LOVE That smell

boffin's avatar

The chemical smell of captured “Fireflies”...
Now on the west coast without “Lightning Bugs”, I have caught a whiff of that special odor. I was instantly transported to the backyard in Ohio and became three years old again.
Powerful stuff them “Smell” memories…

Judi's avatar

There is a bathroom soap that is kind of sandpapery that has a distinct smell. I smelt it in a public bathroom recently and it took me right back to grade school to that ½ circle sink where you stepped on the bar on the floor and the water came on all around the sink. My tummy even got that same insecure feeling that I had through most of elementary school.

J0E's avatar

@Zen Looks like mine got more responses…

Zen's avatar

@J0E You win.

Response moderated (Spam)
VS's avatar

I wanted to ask this question, but have learned to search first to see if it has already been asked! That said, I shall answer this one instead.
The smell of spearmint evokes a very strong memory of being 10 or 11 and rolling in a patch that my Aunt Eva grew in her side yard.
The smell of leather reminds me of my daddy. He was a lawyer and carried a leather briefcase and I loved to press my nose against it and just close my eyes and inhale. That would always make him laugh. He died when I was 10 so that is a pretty ancient memory.
White Shoulders perfume sometimes reminds me of my mom although she did not wear much perfume and when she did, it was usually Chanel No. 5, so I have no idea how that association is made.
I have recently discovered chai tea and every time I open the little foil packet, I stick it under my nose and inhale deeply in an effort to determine exactly what memory is just at the edge of my recall. So far, no luck with that. May be there is no memory other that of Black Jack chewing gum, and the sweet smell of that perfect combination of herbs and spices.

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