Monday, June 11, 2012

Top Favorite Smells for Britons

Smell associations admittedly have to do with environmental and generational factors: what we like and consider pleasant today is what shaped us in our childhood. And that has to do with both the culture we grew up in as well as the time period in which our childhood was spent. Thus for instance people in the baby boom generation and beyond have played with Play-Doh plasteline and find it a comforting reference (hence Demeter's PlayDoh fragrance!) while people growing up in farms in the 1920s and 1930s cite fertiliser and big balls of hay as the quintessential memory triggers.

In new research focusing on Britons in the here and now several interesting facts emerged. Of course the research was commissioned by Vileda, a company of home-cleaning products, so take what you read with that in mind. Lindsey Taylor, from Vileda commented: 'Comfort smells associated with the home, such as Sunday roasts and fresh linen, make us happy and by keeping your home clean and fresh you will make sure that they are not drowned out by bad smells like kitchen bins and piles of washing up in the sink."

Aside from that, not coincidentally again the nostalgic smells of childhood (when it's a happy one, of course) bring the most contentment to people: freshly-washed linen, home baking, cut grass on the lawn and the domestic scent of Sunday roast. "Bacon was an unsurprising high-scorer, while more unexpected popular scents in the Vileda Cleaning Report included hairspray, leather, coal, petrol and chalk dust.[...] Participants named aftershave, beer and fresh paint as the smells that reminded them of their fathers, while perfume, Sunday roasts and freshly washed sheets triggered memories of mothers.[...] Among the scents which associated with the older generation of grandmothers were soap, lavender and musky perfumes.Wood smoke, pipe smoke and strong aftershaves brought back memories of grandfathers in times gone by and do not appear in the list of favourite modern-day smells.

The list of Britain's Top Favorite Smells runs thus: 
1.Cut grass
3.Freshly cleaned house
5.Sunday roast
6.Fresh flowers
7.Fresh linen

Read more on the Daily Mail

pic via


  1. Being a Brit, I would say this list is spot on :-)

  2. A ha!! That's useful to know. Thanks!!

    Because I'm of the firm belief that when research is commissioned by a party/organisation/company they're intent on producing the results they want to hear. ;-)

    I find VERY interesting that leather is mentioned as #10 on this list. A classy reference for posh goods. And a fine note for perfumes :-D

  3. MariaA19:09

    I get the smells and the association, bacon is the one I can't relate to cause we never eat bacon for breakfast here in Greece, however there are smells unique to each one of us . Mine is gasoline, I grew up in the citynear a gas station and a dry cleaning store. I just love the smell, very artificial but I can't help it!!

  4. noetic owl19:33

    What a great list and it stands to reason why so many of us enjoy gourmand,green and leather notes in our perfumes. Years ago Gap made a very inexpensive fragrance called Grass-it was so odd but loved by me and unfortunately discontinued.It was brought back to life in 2009 but quickly disappeared from the shelves. I guess young America does not like to smell like freshly mowed grass :)
    I would be curious as to what this list would comprise of for Americans.
    And just as an aside, the all natural company Pacifica makes an EDP called Vanilla Vera Cruz which to me smells just like play-doh and is very affordable and all natural. I happen to like it but I guess it is far from popular as the company is beginning to phase it out of its fragrance repetoire. Worth looking into for those who enjoy that scent!

  5. I lived in England for 6 years and can definitely agree with this list! They've got a lot of green grass to cut, bacon is eaten quite frequently and I would swear that nearly every household has a roast on Sundays...or goes to the pub for one! I am surprised that Parma Violets (a violet flavored candy) aren't on the list, but as the article states, maybe that is because it is too 'old skool' an association these days!

  6. Miss Heliotrope08:06

    It would be interesting to know about how other cultures think of such basic smells, as this does seem rather English. Especially the whole bacon for breakfast & Sunday roast.

    When living in the US, the big "Australian" smells I missed were sheets & towels that had been dried in the sun, and the fresh-eucalypt of the bush.

  7. Maria,

    indeed!! But talk about jasmine, exhaust and earth dirt, sea spray, lots of coffee dregs, figs, mastic, aniseed and dried herbs and you've got something very Greek! :-)

    Gasoline eh? One of the smells that almost makes me nauseous, don't know why. Some of the people close to me inhale deeply while at the filling station, I try to withhold my breath, LOL!

  8. Noetic,

    I would be interested in finding cultural lists of fav smells indeed, so if you or anyone else has them, have them coming please!

    From what I know Pacifica isn't all naturals, though some of their wares do have a high percentage of naturals in them. That Vanilla Vera Cruz sounds mighty interesting. Pity they don't ship to Europe for a sane amount.

  9. Mrs, Scents,

    for myself, being a Southerner that I am, England is the land where things are schizo smell-wise; you either smell wild flowers and cut grass in the air (even within London in several spots, thanks to the vast parks) or manure and urine. Its' very distinctive and very "divided" geographically I find. Here things are so much more of a melange.

    I think Parma Violets are indeed a very retro association; I associate them with grannies munching them to sweeten their breath (nice habit btw!!)

  10. C,

    yeah, bacon and Sunday roast...

    But isn't Sunday roast a worldwide tradition almost?
    (personally I can substitute with the smoky-inky-salty smell of roasted octopus and seafood any day, because it reminds me of summer on the islands)

    I was very impressed with the freshness and solar energy of Australia myself! (and I spent most time in NSW in wintertime, imagine). The parks, the beaches, the ocean, the mountains, there's something primal and wonderful about the whole land; it smells and feels unspoiled. Eucalyptus and Aussie mint I understand are trade-markedly Australian, I understand (replicated in Aussie hair products too!). I also love mimosa and boronias!! (latter are heavenly)


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