The top nostalgic smells that take us back to childhood – such as roast dinner and crayons

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While the distinct smell of grandparents’ homes and mothers’ perfumes cause adolescent memories to come flooding back for 18 and 19 percent of Brits, respectively.

More than three-quarters (76 percent) believe certain aromas could evoke fond memories, and 61 percent claim encountering smells they love has a positive impact on their mood.

In fact, 58 percent claim smells they enjoy can even help them to unwind when they feel stressed.

Dr. Angharad Rudkin, a clinical psychologist and mum, speaking on behalf of decongestant brand Olbas, which commissioned the research, said: “It is incredibly powerful what feelings, emotions and memories certain smells can evoke.

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

“Even if it is something more on the unusual side that we enjoy, it is so important that we embrace these scents and look after our noses so we can continue to breathe easily and celebrate them.”

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

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

More than two-thirds (67 percent) feel embarrassed when revealing the eccentric odours they love – but 39 percent find it amusing when a loved one tells them about an unusual smell they adore.

A quarter of those polled (27 percent) even admitted to going out of their way to encounter smells they enjoy, with a third (33 percent) doing so on a weekly basis.

Fish and chip shops ranked as the number one smell the nation associates with the UK, with 54 percent of those polled, via OnePoll, claiming it to be the quintessential British smell.

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

Claire Campbell, brand manager at Olbas, said: “When we are suffering with a blocked nose from a cold or flu, it is often the treasured smells that we miss the most, as they can be extremely comforting when we’re not feeling at our best.

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


  1. Fresh-cut grass
  2. Certain meals being cooked – like Bolognese or a roast dinner
  3. Crayons
  4. Roses
  5. Sweets
  6. Play-Doh
  7. The smell of a school
  8. The countryside
  9. Your mother’s perfume
  10. Pencil shavings
  11. Your grandparents’ house
  12. Lavender
  13. Medicines
  14. The smell of paints – oil, acrylic, poster
  15. An old teddy bear/blanket
  16. Leather
  17. Daisies
  18. Potpourri
  19. Bark from a playground
  20. Packaging from a new toy/video game

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