Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Memory and Your Nose

Ceilidh, front center, with her focus group

Mmmm! Just the whiff of Old Spice Aftershave and I’m back dancing on the top of a table to the Beatles’ She Loves Me and spotting a mysterious stranger soon to be my first love.

Or the smell of wet grass and I’m poking my head out of our family tent wondering if it’s dry enough to forage for mushrooms.

What is it about a smell that in a nano-second vividly recalls memories decades old and with all the attendant emotions? No other sense packs such a punch because it’s the only sense that goes directly to the brain. At the top of our nasal passages behind our nose is a patch of special neurons about the size of a postage stamp. These neurons are unique because they’re out in the open where they can come into contact with the air. Humans have about five million neurons. Dogs have more than 220 million.

My dog thinks that humans have a puny sense of smell. Her smell is a thousand times more sensitive than ours. Could you smell a stick of celery through the walls of a closed suitcase surrounded by dirty socks? And medical tests have recently shown that specially trained dogs can detect certain types of tumors in humans. Beat that!

In order for you to smell something, molecules from that thing have to make it to your nose. Everything you smell, therefore, is giving off molecules - whether it’s aftershave, celery or wet grass. Those molecules are generally light and float through the air into your nose. Inert substances such as minerals don’t give off molecules which is why they are “fragrance free.”

Humans can distinguish more than 10,000 different smells. My dog isn’t impressed. She can smell the urine of another of her brethren and tell you the sex and what it ate for breakfast. She does this quite often. “Hey, let’s go this way. He’s a nice looking stud and there’s a chance he didn’t eat all the sirloin they gave him for breakfast!”

Regardless of our limitations, smell is incredibly important to us. What’s the first thing you do when you’re assessing a new cosmetic? I bet you put it on your hand and smell it. If it doesn’t appeal, it doesn’t matter what miracles the cream could produce, you won’t use it; I know you.

So wait until you try our special holiday product, . Four beautiful lip glosses with my favorite chocolate flavors - truffle, orange, strawberry and caramel. Yes, they really taste like chocolate and just as importantly…they smell like it. That’s because we’ve used organic food-grade flavors. From the moment you open the box all your senses are stimulated and when you put them on your lips, I promise you a truly sensual experience.

As soon as I open the lid to and release the smell, I’m opening the door to my first Belgian chocolatier and swooning from the aroma - real cocoa beans and butter fat, no compromises just pure decadence.

Unfortunately, chocolate is poisonous for dogs so in spite of pulling out the big guns - tail waving rhythmically, the “see what a good girl I am sitting here in front of you and not moving an inch,” posture and moist eyes fixing mine, I’m hanging tough and keeping these delectable goodies for myself. Pass the chocolate orange, please.