What is it about the power of certain scents, fragrances, and at times odors that instantly transport us to a time in our childhood when all was good and right with the world? The idea that a simple scent can instantly “take” you home is quite magical.
Two scents that found their way from the kitchen was that of my mother’s enchiladas and my father’s pancakes. A simple whiff of chili powder, onion, and garlic was enough to get my sister and me to the table within minutes. There was no need to taste the food because the aroma alone assured us a happy and full stomach. In the morning, my father’s breakfast had an even stronger effect. It would get two kids quickly out of bed and to the table making sure that we’d be ready for school on time. My father’s pancakes were delicious. He’d use vanilla extract and pieces of bacon in the batter. The smell of the combination was intoxicating, and still is. My husband is our official pancake maker in our house, and it took quite a bit of convincing to make him use vanilla extract and bacon in the pancakes – a true game changer. Of course, the sweet and spicy aromas of food aren’t the only scents that draw me back to my childhood. Believe it or not, there are two household cleaning scents that are just as powerful.
For me, the smell of a Clorox, yes Clorox, has that power. It reminds of the many times my mother would scrub the tub and floors; the house might not have been much, but it was always clean – it was welcoming. I also remember the scent of Fabuloso, a beautiful and fragrant Mexican cleansing liquid. There’s just something about Fabuloso, the purple bottle, that embraces you in the memories of home. To this day, my house will always have one to two bottles of Fabuloso in its cabinets. And honestly, my house is not clean unless I can smell the Fabuloso in every tiled room. And just as the fragrance of Fabuloso transports me home, there is one more scent, a much more odorous one, that does the same.
Fritos! Popcorn! I can’t stand the odor of stale Fritos and popcorn. However, those odors remind me of my mother’s vicious little chihuahua, Peewee. We had a love-hate relationship between the two of us. As a matter of fact, it was more of he really loved to hate me kind of relationship. This dog had a severe attitude, and snapped at me more times than I can remember. Oh, but in front of my mother, he was an angel, a perfect little angel. Fritos and popcorn, Sara? Yes, that brings me back to the odor. This dog, at least to me, reeked of stale Fritos and popcorn. No matter how many oatmeal baths my mother would give him, which was almost every two days, he reeked. Well, it wasn’t really his whole body that stank; it was mostly his paws that carried the odor. Yes. Stale Fritos and popcorn instantly transport me home to a loud and aggressive Taco Bell chihuahua.
As Diane Ackerman so plainly states it, “nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.” Scents can take you home. Be it the smell of fresh mountain air, of cooking aromas, cleansing products, or that of day-old snacks, scents magically elicit the memories that we tend to submerge under years of life’s happenings.
So, go on home. Take a whiff. 😉