Thursday, November 18, 2010

Smell Questionnaire

Via Glass Petal Smoke

What are some of your strongest scent memories?
Camping smells: tarps and tent canvas, pond water and fish bait, campfires, pine trees, damp earth. A scratch-n-sniff book I had based on The Secret of NIMH, especially the sunflower. The smell of the inside of the Ferrari my dad used to own, not just the leather but the "Connolly Hide Care" conditioner he treated it with.

What are some of your favorite smells?

Wood smoke, pipe tobacco, coffee beans, vanilla beans, coconut, almonds, caramel, leather, rum, limes, grapefruit, tuberose, geranium, patchouli, El Paso when it rains.

Do you have any favorite smells that are considered strange?
I love the smell of blown out candles, but I don't know if that's strange.

Describe one or more of your favorite cooking smells.
The smell of grilled, marinated meat (think steak fajitas) though I'm a vegetarian. Baking bread too, though I can't eat that either. Fresh herbs, especially basil, mint, and cilantro. Grilled onions. Basmati rice.

What smells do you most dislike?
Usual suspects: vomit, shit, foot fungus, etc. Also menudo and organ meats. Chinese markets. Canned fish. Dog food.

What smell did you first dislike, but learned to love?
I used to hate the smell of Earl Grey Tea (bergamot). I still prefer English Breakfast but I like bergamot now.

What scents do you associate with memories of loved ones?
Clinique products remind me of my grandmother's bathroom. The burnt metallic smell that old appliances give off reminds me of her kitchen.

What fragrance(s) remind you of growing up?
Crayons and Play-Doh. Fruit leather. Heavily chlorinated pools remind me of swimming lessons and make me anxious.

What fragrance(s) remind you of the places you visited on vacation?
Eucalyptus = California. Sulfur = Yellowstone?


  1. I think a lot of people do -- gasoline and matches.

  2. oh and nothing beats a good sharpie!

  3. Dude, what? There was a scratch-n-sniff Secret of Nimh book? I would pay literally a thousand dollars to smell Nicodemus

  4. Yeah, man, and it ruled, though some of the smells were pretty random. Like there was an oatmeal raisin cookie on one page, just 'cause who doesn't like the smell of cookies? (Actually from my experience mice are as fond of snack foods as humans are. In fact as far as I can tell that's all they're interested in. What the hell do they eat in the wild?) I wonder if my mom still has it somewhere. Bet it still smells.

    And I used to want to name my future hypothetical son Nicodemus.

  5. Googling brings up a lot of people talking about that sunflower in a mesmerized way, it must have been very powerful

  6. Bigtime, though I can't even remember if I *liked* it or not, just that it was really strong and totally distinctive.

    There was also hay, which again I think was kind of overwhelming.

  7. OMG!!! This is the book:

    I think I'm going to buy it.

  8. Actually I'm not sure if I can handle it. It might be too much.

  9. I can handle it, and I am buying the crap out of one! Although "Little Golden Sniff It Books" is truly a terrible name for anything

    Thank you for bringing this nostalgic emergency to my attention

  10. Enjoyed reading your responses to the Sensory Questionnaire I posted on Glass Petal Smoke. Laughed when I read your bergamot story. Just visited with a chef last week who said that bergamot reminded him of "old ladies sipping Earl Grey tea who smell like pee." (he's English). Funny what trips people up.

  11. The overpowering smell of onion soup is forever connected for me with the year I worked in a campus cafeteria part-time when I was a student at the U. of Minnesota.

    I flee from the smells of stinky cheese and sauerkraut. (Once when I was a kid, when we were visiting relatives, they had some sauerkraut that had spoiled and stunk up the whole house on a hot muggy summer day.)

    Smells that will time-travel me immediately to particular times or places or (in some cases) people I've known include patchouli, soybeans cooking (in a hippie vegetarian steamy-warm restaurant on a cold day), and gingerbread (grandma's house).

    Word verification is "gringsha." And yes, I'm fascinated with the smell of gringsha.

  12. Tricia, please report back!

    Michelle, thanks for the questions! Glad you enjoyed. I noticed we have some similar smell likes and memories.

    Lyle, I just had dinner at a restaurant where several people ordered mac 'n' cheese and it contained an extremely pungent, ripe cheese that was almost too much for me. As soon as someone would finish a dish, someone else would order it and it would start wafting again.

  13. Elisa, you are most welcome! As I see more and more people answering the Sensory Questionnaire, it verifies the existence of a sensory "collective unconscious" and certain cultural archetypes. The beauty of it lies in our humanity; common likes, dislikes, unusual revelations,etc. Simultaneously life affirming and fascinating.

  14. Low tide. Saffron. Cucumber. Tomato vines in a hot summer garden. Dirt. Hay. Horses. Barns. Puppies. Kittens. Sea air. My violin. Specifically the chin rest of my violin. Rosin. Cigar smoke when it's real, Iris and my most favorite gardenia.

  15. Michelle, I think it's interesting that so many people like the smell of gasoline, but think it's weird. Leads me to believe people actually like sulfuric smells in small quantities, though we think of sulfur as just stinking. (I also kind of like the way skunks smell when they are far away and faint.)

    RK, I forgot that instruments have a smell! I can clearly remember the smell of my French horn in sixth grade. So brassy.

    I can't stand the smell of cigar smoke. Tomato vines, however, are delish.

  16. i forgot--i had an epiphone dot and the smell inside the f-hole was delicious. maple i think.

  17. i hold my breath every time i feed my dog.

  18. so gross, right? as a kid I couldn't even walk through the pet food aisle at the grocery store.

  19. the worst is if i forget to wash my hands after i feed the dog, and then go to eat something and can smell the scent of dog food on my hands as i bring food to my mouth. eww! the worst.

  20. There is a scratch and sniff sticker from my childhood that I would love to smell again. It was made by the Trend company, had a rainbow and the word "fantastic" on it.
    Smelling that sticker would blow me right back to grade school. However, I wouldn't want to stay there for long.

  21. I wonder how long those scratch 'n' sniff stickers last?

    The word verification is "evers."


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