If the common saying is true that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then in that same vein I’d add “a scent is worth a thousand memories/feelings.” Our sense of smell is such an underrated sense and yet so powerful and primal. We can close our eyes and not see, and block our ears and not hear. We smell however, with every breath we take and were we to stop, well, we all know what that means. We are constantly awash in a sea of scents. And as far as senses go, smell is the only sense that has a direct link to the deeper parts of the brain, the amygdala and the hippocampus. These areas are directly related to memory and emotion.
Thanksgiving is almost upon us and there’s no doubt that the classic scents associated with the day have a direct impact on our experience and hence memories.
Just think of a New England Thanksgiving feast. A slow-roasting turkey with tart cranberry sauce and orange zest and the baking buttery croissants and, my favorite, the stuffing.
The aromas of a traditional Thanksgiving evoke ideas of our place and time: crisp fall air, smoky woodstoves, comfort, togetherness, home and gratefulness. These feelings are stored in our memories and can be retrieved by way of a single scent. That is potent! Maybe that’s why pumpkin pie flavored everything has become so pervasive on the food scene. Pumpkin pie is prominent at the Thanksgiving table and so by association the warming, spicy smell conjures up feelings of gratitude, warmth, family and friends and hence selling a product via our subconscious emotional memories. Oh, marketers are clever!
What types of scent-memories are you creating this Thanksgiving? Or for that matter on a daily basis, in your home, in your kitchen with and for your family? I am grateful for the ability to create joyful and meaningful memories with my family, and I am thankful as well for all of you who together create this vibrant community of caring and sharing in the Monadnock region. Happy Thanksgiving!
Written and published for Spice Cupboard
Monadnock Ledger Transcript
Tuesday, November 17, 2015