The sense of smell has an amazing, often subconscious, effect on your thoughts. If, for example, I happen to get a whiff of clove oil, without a second thought I am mentally transported to the waiting room of my dentist’s office. Real estate experts recommend that rather than baking cookies while showing your house to potential buyers, you spritz some Windex or Pine-Sol around – the “antiseptic” aroma gives a subconscious aura of cleanliness. The power of smell should not be underestimated.

In the early 1980s, Yale University did a study to determine the which smells were most recognizable. Can you guess what Number One was?

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10. Beer

The ingredient that makes beer smell so delicious isn’t malt or hops – it’s yeast. The same fungus that makes bread smell so appealing.

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9. Dry Cat Food

You’d think that canned cat food would place above the dry variety on the list, but apparently Cat Chow has its own distinctive odor.

8. Mothballs

Technically speaking, mothballs are a type of pesticide….those manufactured in the U.S. include either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, neither of which sound particularly user-friendly. According to the National Pesticide Information Center, when you smell mothballs you are inhaling insecticide.

7. Cigarette Butts

Even though smoking is not as common today as it was in the 1980s (or maybe because it’s not?), who among us would not recognize the smell of cigarette butts, if an ashtray was waved under our nose?

6. Baby Powder

Notice that we didn’t say “talcum powder.” That’s because when folks think of “baby powder,” they’re thinking of the classic Johnson & Johnson’s product, which is a proprietary blend (that is, a “secret” recipe) of ingredients, which gives it a very distinctive fragrance.

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5. Wintergreen

Thanks to methyl salicylate (the scientific name for oil of wintergreen), you can chew a Wint-O-Green Lifesaver in a dark room in front of a mirror and see sparks.

[Editor’s note: Wait, really??]

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4. Chocolate

Did you know that German chocolate is named after a person and not the country?

3. Vick’s Vapo-Rub

A North Carolina pharmacist invented the mentholated salve back in the 1890s, but sales skyrocketed during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

2. Peanut Butter

According to a 2016 survey by the folks who make Peter Pan peanut butter, the average American will eat 2,984 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in his or her lifetime. Piled on top one another, that stack of sandwiches would be higher than the Statue of Liberty.

1. Coffee

Why do so many of your favorite Starbucks blends come from other countries? The only U.S. state able to grow coffee plants is Hawaii.

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