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Scents of adventure evoke holidays

15 May 2014 09:16

The smell of fish and chips can transport people back to family holidays gone by in an instant, research has revealed

The smell of fish and chips can transport people back to family holidays gone by in an instant, research has revealed

Could the smell of a simple item like a suitcase or perhaps even a freshly printed travel insurance document trigger a fond memory of a childhood holiday?

New research has suggested that certain smells, including sun cream or candyfloss, can transport our minds back to holidays gone by in an instant.

An aroma such as bubblegum or fish and chips wrapped in newspaper can take us back to a happy family holiday from years ago, according to the study.

Smell can trigger an emotional response of specific times gone by more powerfully than any other sense, says Professor Barry Smith, from the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the University of London.

He said the hint of a smell that has long since been forgotten is able to seemingly bring "people, places and things" back to life in our minds.

People can find themselves re-enacting a sensory experience - maybe a seaside holiday or a walk through a forest - when they suddenly detect a particular smell, Professor Smith suggested.

The study, commissioned by Disneyland Paris ahead of the opening of its Ratatouille - The Adventure ride in July, included 2,000 people and has generated the 40 most evocative scents that trigger childhood memories of seaside holidays in sunny locations.

It may be that many of the respondents have especially fond memories of retro family holidays by the seaside, given the popular evocative aromas thrown up by the survey.

Sweet candyfloss dripping with hot clumps of sugar, salty fish and chips marked with newspaper print and the smell of garishly coloured bubblegum certainly all bring to mind great family holidays on the coast.

But not everyone is equally receptive to the memory-provoking qualities of smells, it was revealed, with women said to be 20% more likely than men to recall memories from a particular scent.