The best nostalgic smells that take us back to childhood – like roast and crayons

A whiff of fresh cut grass, a roast dinner – and crayons, are the main smells that take us back to our childhood.

A survey of 2,000 adults found that roses, candy, and Play-Doh were also prominent among scents that trigger memories of growing up.

While the distinct smell of grandparents ‘homes and mothers’ scents brings back teenage memories for 18 and 19 percent of Britons, respectively.

More than three-quarters (76%) think that certain aromas can evoke fond memories, and 61% say that encountering smells that they like have a positive impact on their mood.

In fact, 58% say the smells they enjoy can even help them relax when they’re feeling stressed.

Fish and chips ranked first most associated with UK odor

Mum and clinical psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin, speaking on behalf of decongestant brand Olbas, which commissioned the research, said: “The feelings, emotions and memories that certain smells can evoke are incredibly powerful.

“From childhood memories to feelings of comfort and relaxation, it’s clear that what we feel can have a profound impact.

“Even though it’s something more unusual that we enjoy, it’s so important that we embrace these scents and take care of our noses so that we can continue to breathe easy and celebrate them.”

The survey also found curry, bonfires and the interior of a new car topped the list of the country’s favorite smells.

While leather shoes, freshly laid tarmac and fireworks are some of the most unusual scents to put a smile on faces.

More than two-thirds (67%) feel embarrassed when they reveal the quirky smells they love, but 39% find it funny when a loved one tells them about an unusual smell they love.

Four in ten voted the characteristic smell of a roast dinner as the quintessential British flavoring
Four in ten voted the characteristic smell of a roast dinner as the quintessential British flavoring

A quarter of those surveyed (27%) even admitted having done their best to encounter smells they like, with a third (33%) doing so every week.

Fish and chip shops are ranked as the number one scent the nation associates with the UK, with 54% of those polled, via OnePoll, saying it is the quintessential British scent.

This was followed by the characteristic smell of roast dinners (39 percent) and pub (33 percent).

Claire Campbell, Brand Manager at Olbas, said: “When our noses are stuffy from a cold or the flu, it’s often the precious smells that we miss the most because they can be extremely comforting when we’re not feeling our best.

“That’s why we want to help the whole family relieve congestion and breathe easier every day. “


  1. Fresh cut grass
  2. Certain cooked dishes – such as bolognese or a roast dinner
  3. Pencils
  4. Roses
  5. Candies
  6. Modeling clay
  7. The smell of a school
  8. Countryside
  9. The scent of your mother
  10. Pencil shavings
  11. Your grandparents’ house
  12. Lavender
  13. Medications
  14. The smell of paints – oil, acrylic, poster
  15. An old teddy bear / blanket
  16. Leather
  17. Daisies
  18. Pot pourri
  19. Barking from a playground
  20. Wrapping a new toy / video game

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