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WOLF: What do bacon, baseball gloves and hockey card gum have in common?

COLUMN: A list of some of the world’s best smells
Freshly mown lawn is a favourite smell for many. (Black Press file photo)

Last week in this space, I invited you to listen to a column.

This week, I’m trying to get you to smell one.

A list of the greatest sounds in the world sparked plenty of response (thanks, everyone), which I’ve saved for a future piece.

Now, let’s fire up those olfactory senses and see what we can smell.

Like sounds, smells can evoke all kinds of memories. So what are some of the best ones?

Interestingly, there seems to be far less consensus with the smells. What’s odoriferous to some may be delightful to others.

I’ll start with some of my favourites (many connected to their friends, the best sounds).

• Fresh-cut grass at the ballfield. Or the golf course. Or your backyard.

• The inside of your baseball glove, even if it’s been in the garage for years.

• Absorbine Jr.

• The smell of fresh-brewed coffee. I don’t drink it, but it smells good. Best smelled at 5:30 a.m. at the rink.

• Hockey card gum. Could be number one on the list. Now, actually eating the shards of pink glass is another story.

Can you smell it yet?

• My grandparents’ house. Lavender and aftershave.

• My dad’s workshop. Grease and woodchips.

• Coming home to the house whenever Mum was cooking anything.

• Going to my friends’ houses whenever their moms were cooking anything.

• Your hockey bag. Even in an ammonia-like state if you left it in the car and it baked in the sun and then you coated everything in Old Spice. My nostrils are yelling at me right now.

• A freshly opened can of tennis balls. Always took about 10 minutes to get my nose out of the can before play could resume.

• The inside of an old used book store.

• When you walk down the street and your neighbours all seem to have their barbecue going at once.

• The plethora of olfactory choices in a good candy store.

• Gasoline. If you ever catch me sniffing my fingers, it’s because a little gas got on there while I was filling the lawn mower.

• If you ever used to catch me smelling my fingers, it was from my very brief stint working at McDonald’s, where the smell of onions lingered no matter how many times you washed your hands.

• Perfume/cologne instantly transporting you back to a certain place in time, whether it was you dousing yourself in it or someone else’s ‘scent’.

• Chlorine at the pool.

• Pine needles.

• Your favourite old sporting goods store.

• Perfectly crisp, fresh paper money. (Anyone remember that?)

• The smell of the pits at Western Speedway.

• Hot dogs with onions at the ballpark.

• The smell of manure as I near the Cowichan Valley (coming south) and I immediately feel like I’m home.

• Sizzling hot tar on a road.

• Butchart Gardens.

• The inside of an old car that’s been in a garage for decades.

• Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion. Wherever I am, a whiff of that and ‘Wave Babies’ by Honeymoon Suite starts playing in my mind.

• The distinctive smell of walking along the railway tracks on a scorching summer day.

• Vicks VapoRub. Also Neocitran.

• Sparklers as they just go out in your hand. Also those little cap things in the toy guns we all seemed to have as kids.

• A fresh box of crayons. Never was one to enjoy the smell of glue. A good thing, I’m told.

• Freshly baked bread. Freshly baked cookies. Freshly baked anything.

• A row of leather jackets in a clothing store. I may or may not have stuck my head in the middle of them a few times.

• Some sizzling bacon. How many of you were wondering when I’d get to that one. Mmm, bacon.

• ‘New car’ smell.

• Felt pens.

• Rain in the summer.

• Play-Doh. Have left a few noseprints inside those jars.

• Inside the bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

• The fart jar. Those in the know will know. Certainly wouldn’t make any ‘best’ lists, but favourites? I’ll allow it.

READ MORE: WOLF: What are some of the best sounds in the world?

Here’s some offerings from my Black Press colleagues:

• Damp cedar.

• That first whiff of the ocean when you’ve been away from the coast.

• The smell of a sunny spring day after the rain stops falling and the flowers are in bloom.

• A good humidor

• Campfire smoke during a summer campout.

• The sweet smell of cotton candy and mini donuts at a fair/carnival.

• Laundry after it’s dried outside in the sun. (I’ll throw in the distinctive smell of clothes being ironed).

• That gamey whiff from the (now closed) UBC farm.

What did we miss? Let me know some of your favourites.

PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf can be reached by email at, or by phone at 250-905-0019.

Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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