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Aroma, the Scent of Nostalgia

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Aroma, the Scent of Nostalgia

Ali LawrenceDecember 17, 2019

Find out more about how scent and memory are inextricably entwined.

The word, saudade, pronounced “sah-oo-DAD” in Brazilian Portuguese, is untranslatable in English. It takes the sometimes sweet and simultaneously sad feelings that nostalgia conjures and contains them, perhaps in the same way the word “umami” does for flavor—attempting to define the undefinable.

And while we do love a good time, we are also romantics at heart - and well, that means we might like to get a little poetic sometimes, so bear with us...

“The point is, scent and memory are inextricable bedmates, and we like it like that. Well, you know how we feel about bedmates, anyway.”

Each season, milestone, or any other mark of time usually finds a way of attaching itself to something, and that thing then becomes the memory’s mascot. Like the smell of  salt, sunshine and the sea might forever remind you of the freedom of summertime; or the fresh aroma of wood after the rain evokes the invigorating solitude of walking in the forest on a crisp fall afternoon, or the warmth and calm of hot tea during winter break might take you back to grandma’s house—just to name a few.

The point is, scent and memory are inextricable bedmates, and we like it like that. Well, you know how we feel about bedmates, anyway.

Of all five senses, aroma is our original sensory experience. When we are born, our most powerful sense is smell and we begin our life’s journey collecting data from that moment on. And that data is probably infinite. But even with all the science to back this up, there’s always room for mystery—and honestly, what’s more enticing than mystery?

We can think of a few things, but we digress...

We often set out to “create memories” but often they are hard at work creating themselves in ways we have no control over. And it’s not a solo job. Memory is a complex sensory experience. And since we’re in the business of activating our senses to create experiences around connection, we love the role aroma gets to play.

Psychology Today says, “Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound), and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas. This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.” 

“While the essence of rose has a calming effect (some even say that it can lower blood pressure), it also is said to ignite a little bit of a love spell, too.”

Would we go as far as to say that aroma is the great synthesizer—sure, why not?

Also known as neroli oil from the ancient Egyptians, the essence of orange has been known and used to arouse and uplift (and you know what we mean) with its intoxicating scent for centuries. While the essence of rose has a calming effect (some even say that it can lower blood pressure), it also is said to ignite a little bit of a love spell, too.

Pass us the smelling salts, we’re getting worked up...

And we’re not making this stuff up - it’s always been the human condition to want to enhance, inspire, create and most of all, connect. Most of us are happy to search hi and lo for ways to make the ride a little more pleasant overall.

And, trust us, dabbing a little essence of orange behind your ears, buying a bouquet of roses, and finding your love and bringing them in for an embrace will probably lead to some memory (dare we say love) making.

So, here’s to exploring new terrain together while also taking trips down memory lane. Memory, nostalgia, sweet, sour and spicy—they are all part of our journey.

Besides, who says bittersweet can’t be delicious?

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