Memory making through scent: the Smell Memory Kit

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Ever want to hold onto a precious yet fleeting moment, and use all your powers of remembering to maximize your chances of committing it to memory?

I did, fairly recently, and enlisted the brilliant Smell Memory Kit to do so. Time (say, 5 or 10 years) will tell whether it worked or not, but in the meantime, this is the idea.

We all associate smells with emotions. More likely than not, the making of the association was unintentional, solidified by the purity of intent as we fully enjoyed an experience that became a memory while a scent pervaded, uninhibited. Why not, then, reverse engineer the process and immortalize the feeling using a scent that can be retrieved on demand?

Smell scientist [my new dream job, btw, second to perfumer] Sissel Tolaas (SSSL) and SUPERSENSE Lab Vienna have made available a variety of abstract smells, to which no average enthusiast has previously been exposed, for the express purpose of making new scent memory associations. The Smell Memory Starter Kit comes with a random abstract smell in 3 glass ampoules, and the buyer has no option to select the category. I happened to get F(ood), and was intrigued as I wondered how a smell already associated with food (a known stimulus) could be abstract.

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With some apprehension after a couple of months of anticipation, I broke the ampoule at the intended moment. Maybe I was a little nervous. Maybe the liquid took a few milliseconds too long to release its particles into the air. In any case, I could barely smell it, but it was vaguely metallic.

In the hours following, however, it took full advantage of the opportunity to smear all over the metal ampoule holder and make itself well known. It was a green apple scent, made abstract by the metallic (ironic?!) tinge. At that point, I figured it was more of a “day” memory maker than a “moment” memory maker.

Of course, I had to put the amulet somewhere, and an inner pocket of my handbag seemed a reasonable place. I ended up carrying the same bag around for a week—while being fully present in memorable activities—and the whole time, I could smell a shiny Granny Smith reminding me that the moments that matter are worth making an effort to cherish, both immediately and ever after.

So, we shall see what stands out when I smell it again years later—the moment? The day? The week? Any or all of the above? It’s not guaranteed, after all (as stated in the product insert, of course).

Regardless, it’s one of the most brilliant things I’ve come across in my almost year-long exploration of the world of scent, and I am glad for the discovery.

 

Sniff and let sniff, my friends.

 

 

 

 

[Disclaimer: I purchased my Smell Memory Kit from the SUPERSENSE website, and all opinions are my own and not solicited in any manner.]

 

 

 

 

 

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