Friday, March 13, 2009

Name That Smell

A game I frequently find myself participating in is appropriately called “Name that Smell”. Since many samples and products from various different countries come across my desk, this game can get quite interesting and we are never satisfied until we come up with an agreed-upon combination of which "familiar smells" could be combined to created the new “mystery smell.”

The first example I remember is opening a plastic chest filled with toys and stickers from China. I immediately knew I had smelled this distinct odor before and finally reached the conclusion that it smelled exactly like the inside of a Bomgaars store (not to be confused with the outside of a Bomgaars store, which smells like soybeans and fresh dirt). I then had to explain to my “city-slicker” co-worker what a Bomgaars store was.

“You know, that, like, “farm” store where you buy gallons of paint, miniature resin penguin figurines, bright orange “Beware of Dog” signs, and live chicks living under heat lamps?” He actually thought I was kidding but I assured him I was not and explained more about this magical place  where many-a-farmer go to get winter “fashions” such as red and black flannel coats with matching ear flap hats and where you should always remember to use a cart when buying 40lb. bags of dog food because if you decide to muscle it, the credit card machine will undoubtedly be messed up by the person in front of you and you will stand there sweating until “Curt” who is unloading the picnic benches and marigolds in the back comes to the front to tell the 16 year old chick at the cash register that she’ll have to use a manual credit card slip.

My co-worker's response to this long-winded explanation?  "Oh, I better not go in there, then, I’m allergic to chicks.” (I think he meant the ones under heat lamps, not the cashier.) This is the same former co-worker who, in a discussion about a girl getting mauled by a tiger she was taking pictures with, explained how he would never have taken pictures with a tiger….because he was allergic to tigers and wouldn't want his eyes to be red.

Another recent example of "Name that Smell" is when taking a big whiff of some Chinese-printed stickers, we could not come to an agreement on what, exactly that smell reminded us of. Some ideas we kicked around were: 
  • what my frog smelled like when I dissected it in HS biology class
  • Formula 409
  • the polish dental hygienists use on your teeth with that noisy buffer
  • latex gloves
 My final decision was that is was a combination of Anbesol cold sore gel and Fantastik cleaning spray, although a coworker is bring in some Icy Hot next week to prove that is a closer match.

Once in a while, the fun spreads to “name that taste”. There are multiple times we are stumped by a flavor, knowing we have had something “just like it” before. Not too long ago we tried the edible candy grass Walmart sold for Easter this year and decided it tasted exactly like yellow Trix (but not after they changed it all to balls—when they were still fruit-shaped see graph here). Last week we finally determined that a sample gummy product smelled just like Crystal Light Kiwi-Strawberry Lemonade mix tasted (the dry powder, because who hasn’t licked their finger and pressed it in the container, thinking it was going to be like a Fun Dip?) Don’t worry, I only served the lemonade I mixed up from that batch to my closest friends and acquaintances. :)