Wondering about wild grapes

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wondering about smells

I am wondering why we remember smells better than most everything else. It is strange how it works, maybe not with you but with me. I can’t actually smell a memory. I can’t physically conjure up a smell from the past. But, if I do happen to get a whiff of that smell, I can instantly remember that I smelled that odor before and can sometimes connect it with a pleasant or unpleasant situation. Therefore, a smell from the past must be programmed into my long term memory.

The sense of smell is a huge part of taste. When you have a bad cold and can’t smell anything, do you remember how bland your food tasted? Yes, you could taste salty, sweet, and sour, but the delicate taste and aroma of the food was missing. You didn’t have much of an appetite, did you? The sense of smell is important to our appetites and choices of the things we eat. I knew a fellow who used to sell BBQ. He would set up in a location where the breeze would carry the BBQ aroma across an intersection that had either a red light or a four way stop. When the drivers smelled the aroma, they instantly got hungry for BBQ. I have even heard of some grocery stores that have piped in food aromas around the area that had the food displayed that matched the aroma. There sells of those items went way up.

The sense of smell and the memory of smells is a defense mechanism in living creatures, ourselves included. There was a study done with mice, and it was determined that mice smell the breath of other mice to determine what they had eaten and since they were still active, that it was a safe food. This information was stored in temporary memory and then transferred to the long term memory. In mice where the scientists had separated the long term section of the brain from the short term section, they soon forgot and stopped eating the test food. The mice that were not altered continued to enjoy the test food. This proved that the sense of smell is stored in long term memory.

Now, let me sit back and remember that favorite dish of mine. . . dang, I am really starting to get hungry. Got to go see what I can dig up to eat.

You all have a good day and don’t eat too much. Just hold your nose. . .


  1. Burger King does that. I can drive by and smell that awesomeness of flame broiled and grrrrr...gotta have a double stacker! I try to be in the LEFT lane (BK is on the right) so I can't get over to get me one, lol! :D

  2. Growing up in Fort Worth we used to drive the freeway right beside Mrs Baird's bakery. To this day the smell of baking bread of cake or pies drag that memory back.

    When I travel down towards the Gulf the first smell of the salt air stirs memories very strong

  3. Kellie, sounds like a plan, but only if the street has enough lanes. I only buy two items at the fast food places. McDonald’s Caesar salad and Jack-in-the Box’s stuffed jalapeños.

    Ben, when I lived up that way I remember the Frito Lay plant and the smell you got from that. Made you want to crunch on something.

  4. I can remember the smell from the bakery here in Houston when we would go and pick Mom up at work!

    Funny how certain smells can bring back a ton of memories, like you said!

    Home made bread is another one for me!

  5. THANK YOU for posting this. I'm glad I found your blog!!

    Common Cents

  6. HJ, oh yes on the home made bread. That was a wonderful smell and it brings back memories of Grandma.

    Commoncents, Thank you for stopping by, I hope you liked your visit. Please come again.

  7. My father owned a movie theater. He set up an exhaust fan right over the popcorn popper that was piped to the front of the building where folks stood in line to buy tickets.
    He sold a lot of popcorn...

  8. Spud, your father was a smart man.