We sure live in a smelly world.
Now, I don’t mean that in a particularly bad way, it’s just I’ve noticed lately smells seem to be everywhere.
Unless, of course, you are one of those rare and unfortunate people who has congenital anosmia, which as everybody knows, is the absence of the sense of smell.
This can be very debilitating, unless you happen to live next to a sewage dump or a sour gas plant, and then it’s not so bad, really.
But it’s been scientifically proven by scientists who like to prove things, that a good sniffer is an excellent thing for a human and other animals to have.
Funny thing about smells: a good whiff can make you feel a little happier, and a door-slamming stench can make you feel like throwing up.
For example, we’ve had skunks in our yard again this year, and as much as I like the little black and white mouse catchers, when they decide to squirt, even when you’re not there, the lingering reek is like getting hit in the face with a shovel.
However, when it’s a spring morning and the lilacs bloom and drift a friendly waft, I kind of feel like dancing around in my pajamas out there in the yard a little bit.
And as we all know, our olfactory neurons process signals through the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb, directly into the limbic system of the brain. Which means that our sense of smell is more closely linked to memories than any of the other six or seven senses that we have.
Catch a sniff of homemade marmalade, and all of a sudden, you’re back at your long-forgotten fifth birthday party when your weird aunt from the United States gave you a wet kiss on your cheek and her breath smelled like spoiled jam.
You see, this week, I noticed a news item about smells. In particular, smells involving – of all things – McDonald’s hamburgers and candles. Now there’s a decidedly odd and possibly slightly disconcerting combination, you might be thinking, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Believe it or not, the ubiquitous burger behemoth McDonald’s just announced a new merchandise item: Quarter Pounder Candles. Yep, you will soon be able to purchase a set of lovely candles with the delicious scents of “100% Fresh Beef,” “Onion,” “Ketchup” and “Pickles.”
And – are you sitting down? – when you light them all up simultaneously, they smell “exactly like” a Quarter Pounder hamburger! Yum!
I must admit I’m at a bit of a loss trying to imagine even one scenario where I’d want to dim the lights, turn on some nice, relaxing, ambient music – perhaps a little Diana Krall – then lovingly light a row of candles and immediately fill the room with the permeating odour of a busy McDonald’s kitchen.
Attempting to use aromas to push products is, of course, nothing new. Apparently, last Christmas, you could get a limited-edition Kentucky Fried Chicken fire log.
For a mere $18.99, you could toss a KFC log into your fireplace, and your entire house immediately smelled like the 11 herbs and spices.
I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking, hmmmm, now that wouldn’t be so bad. I know, right?
But to clarify – the log is made of recycled wax cardboard, and not fried chicken, so you can’t eat it no matter how badly you want to.
But a Quarter Pounder candle set? I’m not feelin’ it. But if they come out with a Fries Candle … now where did I put those matches?
Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. His column appears every Saturday.