“One person’s putrid is another person’s pleasant...”
April 18, 2015 2:58 PM   Subscribe

Would You Want to Smell BBQ All the Time? [New York Times]
"Over the years attempts by states and municipalities to regulate odor have led to a patchwork of legal guidelines subjectively enforced by inspectors who sniff the air and determine whether to make a stink about a stink. In the past the offenders were typically livestock operations and wastewater treatment plants, but more recently odor inspectors are getting calls about smells emanating from ethnic restaurants, coffee roasters and candle and bath shops."
posted by Fizz (194 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
i am too lazy to tell my bacon nightmare story again but there is a soap/candle place on 7th avenue that is a fucking plague upon nostrils everywhere. sometimes the free samples person is outside just spraying vile chemical-stank crap into the air so the whole corner fucking pongs and it is with only the very strongest exercise of willpower that i do not seize them by their apron and fling them into the sun

i dislike them and wish them great ill
posted by poffin boffin at 3:04 PM on April 18, 2015 [36 favorites]




People get incredibly touchy and defensive about smells they like. I have to work in a tiny, airless closet of an office with the door closed because the scented0candle-warmer and plug-in-air-freshener users in our office wing acted like I was demanding the slaughter of their firstborn when I asked if they could use them less often because whatever chemicals are in them were making me cough and sneeze, and get red eyes and migraines.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:12 PM on April 18, 2015 [32 favorites]


Oh, I'm totally with you there! I'm generally pretty tolerant of smells, but any kind of artificial perfume/scent chemical feels like it's scouring out the inside of my nose.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:18 PM on April 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


I wonder about people who work at Cinnabon. At some point the workers must not notice but everyone* around that person must.

*Well, not everyone, only those who enjoy the smell of freshly baked cinnamon/chocolate like things.
posted by Fizz at 3:20 PM on April 18, 2015


“We have so reduced the level of background odor pollution, we are becoming more sensitive to anything we smell,”

We’ve reduced some background odors, but increased others. 20-30 years ago, every commercial break wasn't full of ads telling you you needed scent booster in your scented laundry detergent before you dried your clothes with a new scent of fabric softener, in your house that has a different Glade Plug-In and can of Febreze in every room, and put them on a body that’s covered in so many different scents of bath gel, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, and hairspray that you can’t even smell your “aromatherapy” deodorant anymore. Those Febreze “noseblind” ads make me laugh, because people who use a ton of heavily scented products are just as “noseblind” to them as Pigpen is to filth. ANY smell is bad in excess.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:20 PM on April 18, 2015 [28 favorites]


any kind of artificial perfume/scent chemical feels like it's scouring out the inside of my nose

UGH RIGHT? even the hand soap in my office is too fucking much to bear, no actual geranium on earth smells that repulsive. also one time a coworker sprayed perfume on herself while we were in the slow terrible elevator and i slipped into a fugue state and committed atrocities
posted by poffin boffin at 3:23 PM on April 18, 2015 [34 favorites]


Of course I would like to smell like BBQ all the time. Stupid question.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:27 PM on April 18, 2015 [20 favorites]


Sriracha California Plant Not Moving Despite Ongoing Battle Over Smell.

The "battle" ended shortly after that article was published, after the company installed stronger filters and the city dropped the suit.
posted by effbot at 3:27 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


The town where I attended college had two relatively large, and very odoriffic operations upwind of campus. The first was a Pillsbury plant where they seemed to make a lot of strawberry cake mix. The other was an open-air factory that treated railroad ties and telephone poles with creosote.

Just imagine a hot Indiana day, in a non-air-conditioned dorm when the winds blew both factories straight into your open window. Strawberry creosote. mmmmmmmm...
posted by Thorzdad at 3:27 PM on April 18, 2015 [20 favorites]


I slipped into a fugue state and committed atrocities

And no court convicted you, right?

Just a few weeks ago a co-worker came back from maternity leave, emptied an entire can of Glen 20 on her test and plugged in an air freshner.

It went missing soon after.
posted by Mezentian at 3:28 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


When I was a teen we lived a few blocks away from an industrial plant that manufactured (among other things) Hunt's Ketchup. We'd see huge trailer trucks loaded with tomatoes pull in.

I didn't mind the smell so much (it just smelled like really bland, uninteresting pasta sauce to me) but it drove my poor mother to the brink of nausea, especially on hot summer days.

We lived even closer to a sooper sekrit Hughes Aircraft plant, where they made all manner of air defense shit, and our touch-sensitive lamps would randomly turn off and on, but that's another story.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:29 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Man, I was going to yap about how plug-in fresheners cause fires, but it's not true, according to Snopes.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:33 PM on April 18, 2015


I miss the mystery maple syrup smell from new jersey, it's been almost 2 years.

ou sont les sirops d'antan
posted by poffin boffin at 3:33 PM on April 18, 2015 [25 favorites]


Yes, locally, the same town that outlawed drive-thrus and public smoking recently passed an "offensive odors" law, prompted by residents' complaints over neighbors' backyard marijuana growing. (Didn't know it made much of a smell unlit.) Meanwhile, 20 miles inland, one of the bigger local industries, a semi-craft beer brewery, caused an odor problem for a town of 30,000. The New York Times Style Section could save a little time by admitting that Central Coastal California exists... but that would require journalistic standards.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:34 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I live very close to a popular coffee roaster (home company is based in Oregon) and the place stunk up the neighborhood until we called the South Coast Air Quality Management office and complained. Turned out that the company hadn't bothered to install the correct chimney and filters. The smell wasn't so bad, but most of us on my street had watering eyes and stuffy noses before the problem was corrected.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:35 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


“People at lower socioeconomic levels may tolerate something much better than someone who moves into the same area and buys a house, sinks a fortune into remodeling and then goes out in the backyard and smells a pot grower, charbroiler, pet food manufacturer or something stinky like that.”

The verbal gymnastics it takes to avoid saying that white people get heard when they complain, leading to more complaints.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:35 PM on April 18, 2015 [42 favorites]


As a kid, though, we lived downwind from a Wonder bread factory. Baking days were amazing!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 3:36 PM on April 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


When I was a kid in Waco there was a cotton seed mill downtown. They roasted them to make them more digestible as an animal feed. The aroma was not unpleasant in moderation. It smelled something like popcorn. But if the wind was just right the entirety of downtown was inundated, blanketed with this cloying toasty smell that was impossible to escape. It was in your hair, your clothes and nose for the rest of the day and night. Way too much of a nominally good thing...
posted by jim in austin at 3:41 PM on April 18, 2015


When my mates and I hit a casino for poker we had this thing we'd do where we'd invent ourselves an answer to the inevitable "what do you do for a living" question from a stranger, and the more goofily plausible our answer, the better.

I spent a day talking about how you could smell a Burger King for a block in any direction, and while it's unmistakably a Burger King aroma, it doesn't come from the burgers being cooked inside. Instead, I told them I was responsible for engineering large chemical discs that are installed on the roofs of BK restaurants and melted slowly over six months to give off that scent.

People weren't surprised by that. Also, I don't think mine was as goofily plausible as my buddy's, who ran with "Nougat Farmer," as if nougat was something you could harvest from the earth.
posted by GamblingBlues at 3:41 PM on April 18, 2015 [27 favorites]


I want to smell barbecue right goddamn now.
posted by boo_radley at 3:41 PM on April 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


Those Febreze “noseblind” ads make me laugh, because people who use a ton of heavily scented products are just as “noseblind” to them as Pigpen is to filth. ANY smell is bad in excess.

So I haven't seen the ads and don't know that the pitch is, but Febreze is an odor eliminator, and was originally specifically marketed for that purpose, except that nobody cared. It wasn't until they retargeted the product as an air freshener, to be used after cleaning, that sales took off. The story is kind of famous, as popularized by an NYT article and a (not that great imo) bestseller by the same author.
posted by effbot at 3:42 PM on April 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oops. I'm dumb.
posted by jkolko at 3:44 PM on April 18, 2015


Oh god. So indoor stuff like air fresheners is chemical warfare, but a lot of outdoor stuff that isn't industrial smells or rotting garbage? I hate those people. It's like the dongs who move in above/next to a pub and file constant noise complaints whenever bands play until they get shut down.

In seattle, there was a big war with small coffee roasteries over the smell and the visible smoke. Because if you can see it, it's pollution!!1! Or some such pseudoscience sounds right bs.

The end result was the roasteria I used to work at and all the other ones had to install expensive afterburners that use like 3x the natural gas the actual roasters do to treat their exhaust. Totally makes sense. Totally environmentally friendly. That makes way more sense than seeing a little smoke and smelling roasting coffee for a certain part of the morning.(all of these places were in mixed use or commercial areas, almost entirely, by the way).

Odor complaints strike me very often as the worst kind of busybody and nimby garbage. That neighbor who thinks everything you cook is gross, and gets the meet in the middle landlord on their side by being so annoying, is often also the person who thinks that every time you walk around your house it sounds like cannon fire, and that your tv is always plugged in to a rock concert sized PA.

But really though, fuck artificial scents and air fresheners in shared spaces. I've made more than one glade plugin some shitty neighbor has put in our hallway disappear(it always has a very mild scent of like... Sage and awesome spicy ethnic food. Very mild though. How is some nasty fake eye watering strong fake flower scent better? And more importantly it always blew under my door)
posted by emptythought at 3:44 PM on April 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


This makes me nostalgic for those childhood car rides through the sharp, pungent patch of vinegary air leeching from "the ol' pickle factory."

I grew up in the 80s, but the memory seems like it's from the 50s, contemporary with the Andy Griffith reruns I watched in the afternoons after school.

Wait a minute, the factory must have already been closed when I was a kid, and that's why it was the "ol'" pickle factory, but somehow my memory invented the experience of the smell.

Anyway.

Those were the good ol' days.
posted by univac at 3:46 PM on April 18, 2015


GamblingBlues, it's actually a very old ploy in diners, burger joints and greasy spoons to attract business by putting a chopped onion on the grill and turning on the ventilation...
posted by jim in austin at 3:48 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've been lurking for years, but this FPP finally motivated me to sign up.

I worked in a pipe tobacco store for about eight years, and learned firsthand some really interesting things about the way brains handle constant strong smells. Pretty much everyone except the most rabidly ideological of anti-smokers unanimously agreed that this place smelled heavenly, but very very strong. When I first began working there, I was looking forward to smelling pipe tobacco and fresh cigars all the time. However, my ability to consciously identify the overall smell of the place disappeared very quickly. Soooometimes after I'd taken a week vacation or so, the smell would hit me for a moment when I walked in the door, but besides that, zilch.

The best I could figure it out, because the smell was so consistent, my brain simply edited it out as background noise, the same way that when one holds very still in a swimming pool, the sensation of being surrounded by water disappears, or how you're not constantly aware of your pants against your legs. Or any one of a number of optical illusions. Again, this was pretty amazing because the smell was so exceptionally strong. But it wasn't the most amazing thing.

I, and my coworkers, got a sort of olfactory superpower out of the deal. Because we were editing out the background-noise smell, we could detect changes to the overall smell-cocktail in there. Where customers couldn't pick out the smell of their own pipe or a specific cigar out, we could. But even more amazingly, we could all tell from across the store if someone had left the lid off of one of the big jars of pipe tobacco, and usually which jar it was. It seemed that when the relative proportions of one of the various background smells changed, we became aware of it--not just of the slight amount that it had changed by, but the entirety of that particular smell. When someone left the "Cherry Mystique" jar open, we didn't smell just a hint of cherry, we were overwhelmed by it like we had our noses in the jar.

Point is, yeah--people working in Cinnabon don't know they smell like Cinnabon.
posted by Krawczak at 3:48 PM on April 18, 2015 [97 favorites]


Febreze is an odor eliminator, and was originally specifically marketed for that purpose, except that nobody cared

I CARED, I CARED SO MUCH IT HAS LEFT A FROWNY FACE EMOJI UPON MY SOUL

and now can you even get febreze anymore without some vile cloying added "freshening" scent? probably not, because everything remains persistently terrible
posted by poffin boffin at 3:49 PM on April 18, 2015 [23 favorites]


I miss the smell of General Motors in the morning.
posted by clavdivs at 3:50 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hey any other Portlanders who smell Camas once in a while? It's rare, but I've detected it some mornings, and I'm not even eastward. (Camas= papermill town miles away)
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 3:50 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh and re: the person working amongst the pipe tobacco: there was a thread here a year or two back, might have been askme, about people working at Subway who gradually grew more sensitized, rather than less, to the smell of the place. Something about how the bread was baked.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Greg_Ace: "any kind of artificial perfume/scent chemical feels like it's scouring out the inside of my nose."

I had a job in high school in an industrial park where, a couple buildings over, there was a company that manufactured fake scents (or maybe scented a final product? I'm unclear). Anyway, fake strawberry always smells like Strawberry Shortcake (the doll), but wasn't too bad; days they were working with popcorn scent were AWFUL, it was all I could do not to vomit.

Thorzdad: "Just imagine a hot Indiana day, in a non-air-conditioned dorm when the winds blew both factories straight into your open window. "

My Indiana college was downwind of an ethanol plant and so smelled of ethanol fermentation, which smells sort-of like a sourdough starter that has gone bad. I live near a different ethanol plant now and everyone else hates it when we can smell it, but I love it because it always throws me right back to college (and makes me crave dining hall food, even though the smell is objectively appetite-ruining). But every now and then in college, when the wind blew from a different direction, mostly on cool fall nights with a crisp breeze, you could smell the Wrigley's Gum spearmint fields some miles away, that was nice.

poffin boffin: "and now can you even get febreze anymore without some vile cloying added "freshening" scent? "

You can, although sometimes the unscented febreze, laundry detergent, and so on, are hiding in the "baby" aisle. (Because there's a hella big market for "gentle" or "less chemical" products for BABIES, but they do seem to be disappearing from the grown-up aisles.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


The verbal gymnastics it takes to avoid saying that white people get heard when they complain, leading to more complaints.

I disagree. With experience in many areas, and watching both my childhood neighborhood and then my parents neighborhoods gentrify, it's that middle class white people are the fussiest, whiniest group of people that exist.

Working class white people? Nah. Lower middle class or artsy white people? Nah. Anyone who would buy a Prius cannot shut up about this kind of shit though. Completely different standards and expectations.
posted by emptythought at 3:57 PM on April 18, 2015 [14 favorites]


I am current about two blocks from a paper mill, and its acres of associated smellponds. Somedays it smells like cedar, other days a little more like rich soil. Visitors all think it smells like rotten eggs and don't know how I can deal with it. I remember thinking that.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 3:58 PM on April 18, 2015


Yeah, as much as I like to own a few Lush products (though most of them are inside bottles anyway), I can't imagine I'd live/work within half a mile of one for very long before my arraignment.

I grew up in a town full of paper mills and industrial chicken farms, so when I went to college in the town with the Morrison's Corn-Kits factory, it was a huge step up.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:59 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


A quick online search also sees some unscented febreeze products that are marketed as allergen-reducing.
posted by NoraReed at 4:00 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a deli on the first floor in my office building. Every afternoon, right when I'm leaving, they bake brownies. And, of course, you have to walk past them to get to the parking lot.

But I'd take that any day over the Lake Stink.
posted by zinon at 4:05 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a deli on the first floor in my office building. Every afternoon, right when I'm leaving, they bake brownies. And, of course, you have to walk past them to get to the parking lot.

I wonder if the people at your deli are aware of your work hours. Hmmm I wonder.....
posted by Fizz at 4:09 PM on April 18, 2015


You can, although sometimes the unscented febreze, laundry detergent, and so on, are hiding in the "baby" aisle. (Because there's a hella big market for "gentle" or "less chemical" products for BABIES, but they do seem to be disappearing from the grown-up aisles.)

Even that's getting to be less and less the case. Lately, whenever I can't get my regular bath soap I've tried my old trick of getting unscented baby soap only to find that all my local stores have stopped carrying it. Lavender? Several different brands. Vanilla? Got you covered. "Fresh Scent," whatever that is. Like, what clean baby DOESN'T smell fresh? "Damn, we've got to start using a fresh scent soap on little Junior. After his bath, he reeks like a sack of dead rats."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Anyone who would buy a Prius cannot shut up about this kind of shit though. Completely different standards and expectations.

The worst part about buying a Prius is the awful new car smell. Then you try a used one and you can tell there was one of those pine trees in there. You can't win.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:15 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a place around here that vents thier rotisserie right into the street so every time you walk past you get a sudden but fleeting desire for slow roast herb chicken.

Also because of the heat vented out the nearby tree consistently blooms a week before all the others.

That stretch of university place between the NYU dorms and the supermarket has always smelled like the inside of a bong.
posted by The Whelk at 4:17 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


Anyone who would buy a Prius cannot shut up about this kind of shit though.

Weird, I own two and I never mention it unless it comes up.

(Seriously, they're 9 years old and you can still smell it on a hot day. I don't know WTF they waterproofed the upholstery with, otter glands? Shit's still waterproof, too.)
posted by Lyn Never at 4:20 PM on April 18, 2015


I grew up in a town north of a paper mill, and when I was growing up, we took a lot of long drives down that way to see family.

It just occurred to me that we weren't necessarily passing near the paper mill every time my dad told me we were.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:21 PM on April 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


I finally have an excuse to come out and say it: the people who use those fresheners/scents have a poor sense of smell. I could extend the principle to food, and in particular to a certain twit I used to live with who always used to look at me sadly and suggest I lacked appreciation for the tons of spices and reeking sauce he always wanted to add to everything when I in fact was "appreciating" them only too goddam well, but that would constitute gnashing my teeth over it far too many years later.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 4:22 PM on April 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


When the farms across the river fertilize and the wind is right, the entire city smells of pig shit. Talk about quality of life! And odor is, after all, particulate.
posted by Jode at 4:25 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


When the wind is right, we can smell when Anchor Steam - just over the hill - is toasting their malt or whatever they do that makes everything smell like delicious toast. I am okay with this.
posted by rtha at 4:26 PM on April 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I grew up under 10 miles from the Hatfield Meats plant that's in, yknow, Hatfield. We could always tell when it was a rendering day when we were out waiting for the school bus.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:28 PM on April 18, 2015


I use the plug-in air fresheners. I like most of the scents even though it's annoying I can't find plain lavender that often. (I developed a taste for the scent due to (NSFW, drug related) this handy dual use product back in the day. Nice to be a teenager openly displaying pot paraphernalia in your room.)

I think they are tuned high because they are meant to be used in a home where someone will be immersed in them and they will lose the scent due to the cigar store effect too soon unless they are strong. Or, they are used in bathrooms where it's one strong scent battling another one. Shared spaces like an apartment hallway do not seem like a good use for this sort of product.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:30 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Point is, yeah--people working in Cinnabon don't know they smell like Cinnabon.

Plumbers will tell you the same of raw sewage. The person who was put off by popcorn scent in high school was likely reacting to diacetyl. Bad shit.

My favorite air freshener was "neutra-air" before it was bought out by anyone. Like spraying baking soda mist that kills other scents. Remember the horrible plastic cone with thick gelatinous air freshener people kept in bathrooms? Ack. This excess air freshener shit is air pollution and leads to cancer in two ways: by being carcinogenic in some cases, little aromatic benzene rings slicing up your DNA and giving you that freshly debrided nasal cavity feeling. And indirectly by normalizing a culture of trapping horrible indoor pollutants throughout the seasons vs. periodically venting the house entirely of smells and carcinogenic radon gas. In Colorado we have radon seeping up and plutonium dispersed everywhere, and the air is dry as shit and spring and summer bring winds down the mountains that blow pollen and dust everywhere. I'm in SoCal right now and my lungs and nose are immediately happier.
posted by aydeejones at 4:33 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I use plug-in gelatinous radon generators so I'm desensitized enough to live in a crowded, shared world without constantly and secreltly resenting everyone around me (or passive-aggressively stealing their possessions!) for their perfectly innocuous air freshener and perfume preferences.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:40 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


I disagree. With experience in many areas, and watching both my childhood neighborhood and then my parents neighborhoods gentrify, it's that middle class white people are the fussiest, whiniest group of people that exist.

How about upper middle class, rich and wealthy white people? Sure they build enclaves and get away from the commoners but sometimes they do buy property right next to offensive noise or smell sources and you'll find that their voice carries the most weight of all. And aren't white people overwhelmingly middle class and up in the us by default? Poor cranky white people in crappy apartment buildings can be pretty fucking exhausing too. Especially about "ethnic smells" like middle eastern food. Intersectionality etc
posted by aydeejones at 4:42 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have lived downwind of a cattle slaughterhouse and (later, in college) in the vicinity of a paper mill. The paper mill was worse. That smell now reminds me of bad acid.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:43 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the people in my apartment building must be an amazing cook because the hallway often smells like fresh bread or fried chicken. Unfortunately she's not that sociable, or she can see through my friendly overtures to my true motives.

Milwaukee used to have a huge chocolate factory near downtown (trivia: Jeffrey Dahmer worked there). It was awesome. The interstate used to smell strongly of yeast due to Miller Brewing; I have a very strong nostalgia for that smell.
posted by desjardins at 4:46 PM on April 18, 2015


I do think poor white people are more likely to complain about a smell to another white poor person like "Mexicans amirite?" Poorer folks often don't want to rock any boats with the landlord and work too much to really enjoy their dwellings to the extent they can, middle class folks often overwork meaningless jobs to attain a "dream" that consists of being on a hedonic treadmill and definitely are likely to feel entitled to a non offensive experience in their neighborhood. My mom was smoking some lovely pork years ago and her neighbor asked if she was burning garbage. In a 300k house neighborhood naturally. Fuck that idiot, has he never smelled BBQ and the shit was in a quarter acre back yard clear away from his doh' micile.
posted by aydeejones at 4:49 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


My apartment building is practically surrounded by Korean BBQ restaurants, including one whose vents are almost directly below our balcony. If we kept the windows open, we would in fact smell BBQ all the time. But we keep the windows closed, because (among other reasons) otherwise I'm just constantly hungry for KBBQ. It smells SO GOOD.
posted by heisenberg at 4:49 PM on April 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Then you try a used [car] and you can tell there was one of those pine trees in there.

Oh god. I bought a used car in which the previous owner had hung a nasty-ass cheap artificial vanilla "pine tree". I tossed that bastard the literal minute I took ownership, but it took me another week or two to realize there was also one (still wrapped, even) in the armrest cubby between the front seats, stinkin' up the joint. Gah!

Even 2 years later I sometimes get a small whiff of it when the car's been closed up on a hot summer day. At least it's not vividly, chokingly cloying anymore...
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:02 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


When the wind is right, we can smell when Anchor Steam - just over the hill - is toasting their malt or whatever they do that makes everything smell like delicious toast. I am okay with this.

I worked in a brewery for four summers and it took me about 10 years to get completely over my aversion to the smell of hops after that. Smelling something that strong in parking lot right before spending 8-12 hours in bottling plant hell is pretty powerful conditioning (as well as motivation to do well in university).
posted by srboisvert at 5:02 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Milwaukee used to have a huge chocolate factory near downtown (trivia: Jeffrey Dahmer worked there). It was awesome. The interstate used to smell strongly of yeast due to Miller Brewing; I have a very strong nostalgia for that smell.

The QEW into Toronto has a Keebler factory nearby that if the wind is right smells just like getting home from primary school. (They also sell bags of broken crackers and cookies from a factory outlet just in case you need to know).
posted by srboisvert at 5:06 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


perfectly innocuous air freshener and perfume preferences

there is nothing innocuous about overwhelming chemical stinks that cause blinding migraines and make me puke so violently that my nose bleeds. it is mindboggling to me that people can be so lacking in basic mindfulness that they insist on subjecting others to unwanted chemical scents in enclosed spaces like offices and airplanes. it takes so little out of your day, out of your life, to consider how your actions might adversely affect others and then decide whether or not you want to continue acting like you're the only person on earth.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:07 PM on April 18, 2015 [39 favorites]


how big are these cooky bags, asking for a friend
posted by poffin boffin at 5:07 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


...their perfectly innocuous air freshener and perfume preferences.

Hey, if you've been lucky enough to only ever encounter people whose public scent use was perfectly innocuous, then my hat's off to your circumstances. Wish I could say the same for my own.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:11 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I, and my coworkers, got a sort of olfactory superpower out of the deal. Because we were editing out the background-noise smell, we could detect changes to the overall smell-cocktail in there.

I believe it. I had the same superpower, different sense with noises in my engine room.
"Low pressure drain float is stuck."
"How do you know that?"
"Listen."
[Huge steam piping roar, machinery noise, turbine whine, gear rumble, faint sound of sucking air]

It was a racket, but I knew each part of that racket and could pick out anything different. Now I have tinnitus, because I wasn't smart about hearing protection.
posted by ctmf at 5:14 PM on April 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I live across the street from a pizza place, in the same town as the Yankee Candle factory, and about 100 yards from a craft brewery. It gets...interesting around here in the summer.
posted by apricot at 5:14 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


In Chicago they have Garrett Popcorn shops, which vent their kitchens onto the sidewalk. Those genius bastards are responsible for a two-pound weight gain whenever I go there.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:16 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I went to school somewhere that was occasionally downwind of the Tropicana plant. The strongest smell was burning orangepeel, it was
I miss the mystery maple syrup smell from new jersey, it's been almost 2 years.
Actually kind of like that, but with the faint tang of citrus oil. Not something you want to smell constantly on a hot day.
posted by indubitable at 5:18 PM on April 18, 2015


Just between Harvard and MIT in Cambridge is the Necco wafer plant. Walking past one day in one block I had four distinct odors blast me. Almost like zones of candy.
posted by sammyo at 5:20 PM on April 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, god, I just remembered there used to be a pickle plant in town, too That would have been nuts.
posted by apricot at 5:20 PM on April 18, 2015


there is nothing innocuous about overwhelming chemical stinks that cause blinding migraines and make me puke so violently that my nose bleeds. it is mindboggling to me that people can be so lacking in basic mindfulness that they insist on subjecting others to unwanted chemical scents in enclosed spaces

I think people just assume that a product that causes migraines, violent puking, and nosebleeds when used for its intended purpose would not be on store shelves.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:24 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Seriously, they're 9 years old and you can still smell it on a hot day. I don't know WTF they waterproofed the upholstery with, otter glands? Shit's still waterproof, too.)

Oh my god, that's so reassuring- I bought a used one last year and thought something was wrong.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:26 PM on April 18, 2015


This link literally popped up just as I was thinking to myself "if I someday own a house with a yard, I wonder if neighbors would hate me for building a brick oven and a smoker?" I guess the answer is yes!
posted by teponaztli at 5:27 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh god, I'm probably going to be one of those people.

So in August I moved into a second-floor apartment. The first floor is zoned for a restaurant, and it was empty when I moved in. It's still empty, but last week I found out that a microbrewery is moving in there, so they will be making beer directly below me, which in itself could be a smell issue. On top of that, it's not zoned for a bar, so they have to serve some food so they can call it a restaurant. They don't want to have a full kitchen, so they've announced that they will be serving fermented food, like sauerkraut and kimchi. Yeah. I don't want to be a jerk, but I'm kind of nervous about this! I'm sure I'll get used to it, and I like to think of myself as a non-whiny, unflappable urban person, but I don't know if I want to spend my life smelling like beer and sauerkraut.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:39 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


if I someday own a house with a yard, I wonder if neighbors would hate me for building a brick oven and a smoker

Depends on the neighbour. If I were that neighbour you would have to put up with my constant attempts to befriend you in hopes of obtaining delicious smoked foodstuffs.
posted by dazed_one at 5:39 PM on April 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


Actually kind of like that, but with the faint tang of citrus oil. Not something you want to smell constantly on a hot day

It was actually pretty nice, or at least mostly inoffensive, which is what i'm pretty sure led to the widespread panic and suspicion. it wasn't this persistent overwhelming fake syrup smell or anything, it was just like these little whiffs on the breeze, like maybe a delicious mysterious stack of pancakes was waiting for you just around the corner.

being new york, everyone assumed it was the end times
posted by poffin boffin at 5:39 PM on April 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


...but I don't know if I want to spend my life smelling like beer and sauerkraut.

I can think of wurst fates...
posted by jim in austin at 5:44 PM on April 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, it did occur to me that I will be able to walk down a flight of stairs and get a beer anytime I want, which may be worth smelling a little funny.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:44 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


The worst I have experienced is the paper mills outside of Savannah. Brimstoney goodness.
posted by thelonius at 5:49 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The building next to were I work used to have a soap and chai factories, these often smelled OK. They both moved out and were replaced by a micro-brewery and a MJ grow house. It is not an improvement.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:51 PM on April 18, 2015


being new york, everyone assumed it was the end times

Still the greatest NYT headline of our time: Good Smell Perplexes New Yorkers
posted by griphus at 5:52 PM on April 18, 2015 [18 favorites]


On the one hand, where are these places that reek of roasting coffee and barbecue so I can move there?

On the other hand, I used to get to play hockey once a week across the road from a rendering plant. At first your brain is like 'mmm, is that a casserole?' and then it quickly goes 'no, it's steaming hot dog food' and you just about hurl all over the field. In those days it was a light industrial area on the far south-eastern reaches of town. These days it's a suburb pitched for its proximity to the river and the city.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:55 PM on April 18, 2015


> This link literally popped up just as I was thinking to myself "if I someday own a house with a yard, I wonder if neighbors would hate me for building a brick oven and a smoker?" I guess the answer is yes!

I've never gotten any complaints. /knocks wood chips.
posted by rtha at 5:58 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I formulate scents, albeit with essential oils and distillates. I don't use any artificial scents because I don't like them, and they give me headaches. That said, I had a client once order about 800 pounds of patchouli soap. Soap takes 6 weeks to cure. I don't like patchouli, and I really, really, really don't like it after smelling it for 6 weeks. That order is when I took patchouli off the list of products I am willing to work with. Now I just have to find some crazy person who wants 3 pounds of patchouli oil. Gods help the poor soul...
posted by dejah420 at 6:02 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I live 4 blocks from a small town coffee roastery. I love the smell when they are roasting beans. And I don't even drink coffee.

But it's only a couple times a week, during specific hours, so not a constant thing. Perhaps if it were all the time I'd change my mind.

When it rains after a long dry spell and the wind is right you can also smell the UIUC South Farms. Not such a pleasant odor. But I accept it as part of working at a Land Grant university.
posted by sbutler at 6:02 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


but I don't know if I want to spend my life smelling like beer and sauerkraut.

Don't know about the sauerkraut, but I work at a brewery and it mostly smells like grain.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:03 PM on April 18, 2015


My upstairs neighbor barbecues occasionally on the roof in summer and it gives me SO MANY CRAVINGS because the smoke blows right into my AC's intake

still better than the cigarette smoke that blows in from next door though
posted by NoraReed at 6:08 PM on April 18, 2015


I once read a story about Ooka Tadasuke, a legendary Solomon-esque judge from medieval Japan, where a broke student living over an inn would inhale the smell of the innkeeper's cooking food while he ate his rice to make it a little more pleasant. The innkeeper found out, and sued.

Ooka ultimately ruled that the student should jangle his coins in front of the innkeeper and thus pay the sound of money for the smell of food.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:10 PM on April 18, 2015 [113 favorites]


the best New Mexico smell is fall, though: grocery stores and produce stands roasting chile with a hint of the organic decay of fallen leaves
posted by NoraReed at 6:11 PM on April 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


Funny the piece mentions Franklin BBQ. While I was standing in line at Franklin recently I was looking out across the street at the newish condos and thinking to myself "you lucky bastards." Never occurred to me that there might be pissed-off vegans sitting in their living room grumbling about the smell.
posted by photoslob at 6:14 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Almost like zones of candy.

Incidentally, "Zones of Candy" is the name of my new band.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:28 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I worked in a fish processing plant cleaning salmon in Alaska one summer when I was a kid. When we first went to apply for the job and I walked into the plant it felt almost physical, like I'd hit an actual wall of smell and I absolutely couldn't imagine being able to stand it for more than a minute or two, I breathed through my mouth which only helped a little bit, I breathed through my shirt when the foreman wasn't looking, I got through the interview and rushed outside and the air tasted like the freshest most heavenly clean water on the planet, like dew from the knees of sainted bees, it was fucking fantastic.
Then I started working, the adjustment period when I started working my shift until I forgot about the smell got shorter and shorter, and eventually somehow I got used to dealing with it. Then there was one day when we had a few days break because the salmon wasn't running. I went into town, washed all my clothes and bedding, paid for a real shower, ate real food, stayed away for several days and when I went back for work I steeled myself to get used to the wall of smell again and when I walked into the plant--I realized I just couldn't smell it, it was like the smell of rotting fish and guts and blood and bleach wasn't here, had never existed. Or like those circuits in my nose or brain had been 100% cauterized. I never smelled it again for the rest of the summer. Even now the smell in a fish store doesn't bother me, although it's a pale cousin to the factory's stink. Mmm, salmon.
posted by eggkeeper at 6:37 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think people just assume that a product that causes migraines, violent puking, and nosebleeds when used for its intended purpose would not be on store shelves.

Yeah, this. I'm not minimizing any particular person's sensitivity but is it really the case that people shouldn't use deodorant or cologne or scented hairspray or air freshener in an office setting? Unless I'm specifically told that someone in my office has an issue with it, I assume it's okay because the products are widely sold.
posted by desjardins at 6:38 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


My former house in Austin is involved in a dispute with a BBQ joint newly moved in to the neighborhood about this. It's not so much the smell as the thick wood smoke that fills the house from 3 smokers working 18 hours a day. The folks that bought the house from me are still friends and I know they aren't being entitled jerks. The smoke is heavy and constant. They have tried talking nicely with the owners of the restaurant and have basically gotten a polite FU. So now Austin is possibly going to legislate a solution that puts a burden on restaurants that are not bothering anybody, since some of the ones that are won't be good neighbors.
posted by bgribble at 6:40 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this. I'm not minimizing any particular person's sensitivity but is it really the case that people shouldn't use deodorant or cologne or scented hairspray or air freshener in an office setting?

I think most of those things can be okay *in moderation*, but it's like giving a small child a whistle. Some of them are going to get out of control with it. Especially air freshener, good god.

There was a person in my group at work that used those godforsaken Scentsy products, which are not for masking disgusting odors, but more like making "nice" odors for the person owning the Scentsy cauldron. I wasn't assigned to that room, but if I had been I would have totally made a Federal Case out of the fact that that shit is disgusting and represents an obnoxious thing that should not be done to other humans trapped in the same space for 8-9 hours a day, five days a week. It is designed to fill a space for hours on end. Note: this room was small.

Luckily I only had to venture into that room to fetch my stuff from the fridge now and then.
posted by megafauna at 6:49 PM on April 18, 2015 [9 favorites]


Itaxpica: Ooka ultimately ruled that the student should jangle his coins in front of the innkeeper and thus pay the sound of money for the smell of food.

Ha! I once heard that proverb but attributed to Nasreddin. I guess the good stories get around.
posted by traveler_ at 7:02 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


I used to live down the street from a coffee roaster and a dim sum place. The first week we were there, there was an intense oily burning smell, and a fire truck parked outside the dim sum place. I though Oh No! Dim Sum! And started to go down there to check (living down the street from this place was a perk of the apartment) but then, some firefighters came out with five bags of dim sum, waved good bye, and hopped back in the truck. And that was how I found out what coffee roasting smelled like.

Count me in as one who has trouble with perfumes; remember, perfume is meant to be a secret between you and the people you're closest to.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:07 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


There is a story in various places in the literature about ancient Tyre being the stinkiest place in the history of the planet earth. Tyrean purple dye was manufactured by milking snails and they didn't have anything better to do with the used snail carcasses than let them rot. There are few smells in the world that are worse than decomposing sea snails is the way the story goes and there were millions of them around at all times because the purple dye was worth a lot of money.
posted by bukvich at 7:14 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is Axe made from sea snails?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:18 PM on April 18, 2015 [12 favorites]


any kind of artificial perfume/scent chemical feels like it's scouring out the inside of my nose

No kidding. The worst for me are some colognes (especially those preferred by young men) and scented candles. Those make my sinuses clog up and my eyes itch, and I'm someone with basically no allergies and no issues with industrial smells.

if I someday own a house with a yard, I wonder if neighbors would hate me for building a brick oven and a smoker

I worry a little about this every time I smoke a pork butt, because depending on size it can be 12-19 hours of smokey goodness coming out of my backyard. Happily no one has ever said anything, but I am careful to keep my smoking intermittent so as not to impose on downwind neighbors.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:22 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whatever the hell is in Greeley, CO made me retch for two days.

On the other hand in my youth I framed apartments around Louisville near the Jim Beam distillery and there were days we almost fell off the roof. Good times.
posted by umberto at 7:38 PM on April 18, 2015


Somewhere, there's a factory that processes tons of garlic every year and converts it into garlic powder. I've always wondered what it must smell like near there.

There's also one that does the same for onions. That one must also have an astounding odor.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:55 PM on April 18, 2015


umberto: "Whatever the hell is in Greeley, CO made me retch for two days."
Those are feedlots! You were smelling literally tons of cowshit everywhere.
posted by boo_radley at 8:02 PM on April 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


I have a candle-warmer which makes me a little crazy because I can't burn candles in my apartment, but I do like the scented ones. The crazy-making part is that it takes forever to warm up, and the smell kind of comes on gradually and takes awhile to taper off, and only hits peak once it's melted literally the whole candle. They do last forever, but--I can barely smell them unless I start it going, go to the next room awhile, and come back.

But I run errands sometimes going past a Schwebel's plant, and the smell of bread baking is just lovely, but it occurs to me often that I'm not that close to it and that everybody stuck there all the time must find it awful to not be able to really appreciate that smell anymore.
posted by Sequence at 8:06 PM on April 18, 2015


You know what really stinks? Open sewers.

Y'all are really senstitive. Hope you find a nice, sterile suburb somewhere, because most places often reek.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:14 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


If we're talking about childhood smells, I grew up in central Florida and the orange juice plants release this burnt, astringenly sweet citrus smell which makes me deeply happy.
posted by bracems at 8:21 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


All of downtown Denver this weekend, hehe.
posted by buzzman at 8:31 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hope you find a nice, sterile suburb somewhere, because most places often reek.
I have lived in five different cities (DC, New York, Dublin, Chicago, and my current town), and I have not found that to be true. I've actually found that very few places often reek. Maybe you've just spent a lot of time in particularly vile places?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:33 PM on April 18, 2015 [10 favorites]


I grew up in farm country and used to feel proud that I could identify the animal source from the manure smell (best: horse / worst: toss-up between sheep and chicken). Now I'm in New York City and I have lost that superpower and I am mostly okay with that.
posted by Mchelly at 8:39 PM on April 18, 2015


Lived in Hershey, PA as a teenager. It was rumoured your face would break out simply by inhaling deeply. Not true, of course... but a joyful experiment.

Olfactory sensations build extraordinarily rich memories. I later worked as a studio engineer in Boston and fondly recall the distinct fragrance of Scotch brand recording tape, No idea if it was the binder or the iron oxide particles emitting the odor but it's associated with warmth and creativity.

And the obvious is how a beloved is unforgettable in part because of their natural scent.
posted by Bdprtsma at 8:58 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


Five first world cities is not a satisfactory sample size.

Besides, I have lived in two of those cities and visited the others, and they all reeked with some frequency.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:00 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


On and off during middle and high school, I lived around the corner from a vegetable packing plant. They rotated through different vegetables throughout the season. The only time we had an unpleasant odor was Rutabaga Week. I love the smell and taste of cooked rutabagas on my plate, so the bad smell might have come from the sheer volume or from something during processing. But it hung over the whole town like The Fog.

Green Bean Week was more fun because the green bean trucks basically had big baskets for beds, with green beans just chucked in there all loose, and they fly out in the air as the trucks went by, hitting windshields behind them and scattering green beans like candy at the Shriners parade.

I lived for a while in a different part of the same town, right across the road from a giant cabbage field. There was some problem with the migrant workers who were supposed to have come harvest the cabbag. Rather than hire local kids to pick it for a decent wage or let a food bank volunteer to come pick the cabbage for donation, he just let the cabbage sit in the field and rot. That was a fun couple of months.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:01 PM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


All of downtown Denver this weekend, hehe.

Ugh. I'm just glad I remembered what weekend it is before I followed through on my plan to bike downtown this afternoon.
posted by asperity at 9:12 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


And that was how I found out what coffee roasting smelled like.

I used to stop at a tiny coffee shop that roasted its own beans, since it was a nice place to hang out and the coffee tasted good -- but I quickly learned that visiting while they were roasting was a horrible idea. Instant eye-watering headaches, since the shop had no ventilation to speak of. The stuff smells great afterward, but there's a super-nasty stage in the middle somewhere.
posted by asperity at 9:17 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


It was a racket, but I knew each part of that racket and could pick out anything different.
Yeah, in places like that you develop both a tolerance to the background & a sensitivity to minor changes.

I used to work in an old electromechanical (2000-type & SE-50) telephone exchange. First thing in the morning we'd sit around in the control room next to the equipment floor for coffee & chat, but randomly someone would just suddenly stand up mid-sentence & walk out. They'd come back a minute or two later carring a faulty selector, say something like "KF3", finish off their sentence, then head off to the adjustment room.

Eventually you'd get to recognise the sound of particular individual switches & faults. It got to the point where I could finish a sentence with "… and EC5's got a worn vertical pawl" on my way out the door.
posted by Pinback at 9:25 PM on April 18, 2015 [11 favorites]


My former house in Austin is involved in a dispute with a BBQ joint newly moved in to the neighborhood about this. It's not so much the smell as the thick wood smoke that fills the house from 3 smokers working 18 hours a day.

I feel like I should know which place this is so I can knock them off my list for being bad neighbors. We're regular BBQ eaters and the thought of running a lot of small joints out of business because of one offender is upsetting. Also, we're ready to send a nasty letter to our council rep because he supports this measure, and possibly to vote for someone else next time over this.
posted by immlass at 9:34 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know what really stinks? Open sewers.

Open sewers aren't that bad -- they give a background funk, somewhat similar to tripe or really ripe cheese, but nothing worse than that. You get used to it really fast.

What is much worse (and of course super toxic, as well) is burning trash. The smoldering plastics in particular bite your nose painfully. Burning the insulation off of old wires is a common step in recycling, but with awful environmental and health impacts.

Tanneries and low-tech rendering operations are also incredibly nasty to smell, and you definitely know it as soon as you are near. But even those you stop smelling quite quickly, in my experience.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:37 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The worst part about buying a Prius is the awful new car smell.

Mmmmm... phthalates.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:38 PM on April 18, 2015


There is a General Mills plant in Albuquerque that attracted a lot of attention when it opened in 1991 due to the jobs it would create. Soon after it opened, however, it became infamous for the odors it produced. I haven't driven by in a while, but I recall being overwhelmed by an unusually powerful artificial fruit-berry smell that could only be Trix cereal. They must stagger their production runs, because it wasn't a permanent condition, mostly the overnight shift as far as I could tell. I remember thinking about the workers inside becoming immune to the fragrance, though without a doubt their friends and family who encountered them after a shift would be able to smell them coming from a mile away.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:48 PM on April 18, 2015


Why yes, I did enjoy the smell of BBQ on a daily basis when I lived down the street from the best damn BBQ place in the entire country. Thanks for asking!

A+++++ WOULD SMELL AGAIN
posted by wierdo at 9:53 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used to be able to tell the difference between a dairy cattle farm and a beef cattle farm from a mile away based only on the smell while driving on a highway. Probably can't do that any more.

Worked in a turkey processing plant. Smelled everything related to that.

Offensive odors are not a problem for me.

But whatever the hell happens to make the candle and potpourri shops in malls happens, that is a circle of hell.

It's the same circle of hell that is the shampoo and soap aisle at the grocery store.

Offensive is fine. But these things go way beyond that. Eyes watering, throat constricting, sphincter clenching, gonna puke now where's the exit.

It's not always just "preference." Sometimes it really is FUCK YOU THIS HURTS.
posted by yesster at 11:20 PM on April 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


There's a chocolate factory downtown in Chicago, so every once in a while a chunk of the city smells like brownies. There's even a twitter account dedicated to tracking the smell.
posted by borkencode at 1:25 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


My sister's high school—located just outside the city—had a pig farm across the road. You can imagine what that was like in the summer. My elementary and high schools were both downtown in London, Ontario, pretty close to the Labatt's brewing plant. It's hard to describe what that smelled like, but once in a while the whole of the city centre smelled like a can of Campbell's / Chef Boyardee "Spaghettios". It took me until nearly the end of my adolescence to figure out that it was the smell of a brewery. My elementary school was also very close to a very sleazy strip joint, so I and my classmates always assumed the smell somehow came from there. We had lots of a-little-knowledge-is-a-bad-thing theories.
posted by LMGM at 1:41 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a rendering plant and a worm farm down the road from my town.

Add in the dog shit and pot smoke from the locals who smoke up and walk their bull terriers without cleaning up, and we smell...delightful.

They were also going to bring in a biofuel power station, where they would burn organic matter to produce electricity. But they wanted to put it by the nicer homes and they got all NIMBY about it, so we'll probably end up with it.

This town stanks.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:45 AM on April 19, 2015


Artificial smells are a different thing entirely than real/natural smells. The cow shit stench in cow-intensive areas is overwhelming and pervasive sometimes, but meh. Working at the Yankee Candle factory, however, I just don't have words for. You could smell me from 50 feet away, it didn't wash out or off, I didn't get used to it, I actually could not work in the plug-in-air-freshener-liquid area even with my shirt pulled up over my mouth and nose... One day on my line there was a smell I liked, and I finally worked out it was because apparently there's no way to simulate rose scent, and the only source of 'rose smell' is roses. I was once surprised to learn that the candle on the line that seemed to me to represent 'chemical toilet liquid' was meant to be 'lilac', and indeed once it cooled down it smelled less like chemical toilet. Fake cinammon will always smell like ashamed poops in a small office environment.

I swear I read something in a Washington Post thing where people tell personal stories very briefly where a woman's early experimentation with perfume as a kid got this response from her dad: 'First you see the lady, THEN you smell the perfume', and this is the main issue. I should not be able to smell you unless you are close enough to lick. (Ok, arm's length.) But I can smell when certain neighbours shower because Axe or Lynx or whatever. And people leave vapor trails of whatever body spray they're using, or whatever laundry detergent they've used five times more than necessary and the smell still lingers ten minutes after they've walked past. Why is this considered better than smelling like human?

And I don't understand why people compound the ills of stale air in inadequately ventilated spaces by adding a layer of chemical fake-smell into the mix. Put on a fan. Open a window. Buy some plants. Bake bread or cookies. Put out a perforated baking soda box. Open a can of cheap ground coffee. I'm sorry that the smell you like best in all the world is incredibly pervasive and persistent and invades my space and body and I can't get away from it, but unfortunately this is the case. People and animals need to poop and fart and sweat and cook and eat and process waste and make products. We can try to do these things in ways that affect other people as little as possible, but a lot of life is smelly and that's unavoidable. People and spaces do not need to smell like a particular thing that wouldn't happen without continually adding that non-naturally-occuring smell to the person or space. That's a personal preference that there is obviously no universal taste regarding, and some people will think something smells like bliss while other people strongly dislike it or have an unpleasant physical reaction to it. It is kind and thoughtful to consider that other people can't not-experience a smell if they don't like it or have an unpleasant physical reaction to it before you spray or plug in a thing in common spaces, and consider the amount and strength when you spray or plug a thing in private spaces or on bodies.
posted by you must supply a verb at 2:51 AM on April 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


Open sewers aren't that bad

Says you. I have open sewers in my neighborhood. They stink. I've lived in this city for 13 years. Open sewers still stink.

(Interestingly, I got jumped on when I called perfume and air fresheners "innocuous" but when I said open sewers--literaly shit, literally human shit particulates touching the inside of your nose--stinks, I'm told they "aren't that bad". )
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:20 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have a pretty sensitive nose, and until very recently, very good hearing (it's still good, but I've lost a bit of the highs and lows), and I usually notice odors and sounds pretty quickly, often a while before others can tell. This comes in handy with doing barbecue and making sausage. I can smell if something is off, even a little. I can tell by smell how the smoker is doing, and pretty reliably know how the meat is doing.

Unfortunately, I can also smell unwanted odors easily too, from unwashed salaryman on the train to cigarette smoke (both the just lit variety and the "this guy just sucked down a whole cigarette in the two minutes before he got on this crowded train" variety). Air fresheners and perfumes are a deeply unpleasant experience for me.

On the other hand, people who move next to a pre-existing place that produces a distinct smell or sound (restaurant/bar/coffee shop/hog butcher) then start complaining about it are people I, by and large, loathe. These are the folks that get cherished neighborhood institutions run out of business and replaced with more of the same chains that are everywhere. If you don't like the area, don't move there. The area includes the businesses and smells and people who live there, not just your dwelling.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:02 AM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't know what a crematorium smells like in operation, and I don't want to know.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:40 AM on April 19, 2015


There is a General Mills plant in Albuquerque that attracted a lot of attention when it opened in 1991 due to the jobs it would create. Soon after it opened, however, it became infamous for the odors it produced. I haven't driven by in a while, but I recall being overwhelmed by an unusually powerful artificial fruit-berry smell that could only be Trix cereal.

The General Mills plant in Buffalo makes the city's downtown and lakefront areas smell like Cheerios. Sometimes when the wind is right the smell even extends to the suburbs. It's wonderful. Warm and oaty and toasty and a little sweet. Everyone seems to love the smell (possibly because most only smell it when driving by on highways).
posted by Maladroid at 5:41 AM on April 19, 2015


when I said open sewers--literaly shit, literally human shit particulates touching the inside of your nose--stinks, I'm told they "aren't that bad"

By one person. Your comment about "perfectly innocuous" smells got pushback from a lot of people, to which I will add my own voice, because you certainly don't get to decide what I consider innocuous.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:48 AM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


I used to have a post office box at a post office on East Broadway, on the outskirts of Chinatown. One of the other establishments on the same block was a small warehouse/factory industrial-type place that I can only assume was a tofu factory - because if the smell coming out of that place was not fermenting soybeans, I do NOT want to know what it was. It was like some bagged up some sweat and then boiled the bag.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:55 AM on April 19, 2015


Yeap, left a really decent party just a few hours ago eyes watering, tongue itching and throat swelling, because some brilliant person decided it was a good idea to light incense in a 2000 square foot space. This wasn't someone's house party, this was a fundraising event with public ticket sales held in a photo studio.
I despise strong scents and am very sensitive to them, but incense is the one thing that gives me an actual immediate and strong physical reaction.
Reading through the comments with an ice pack on my head to quell the headache brought on by the sudden olfactory onslaught, I realize I'm surrounded by a regular arsenal of smells...from the weed growing next door neighbor, to the rotting fish smell in the lobby of my building from the market on the ground floor (which I only notice anymore when it's particularly bad) to the matzo factory around the corner (yum, but don't taste nearly as good as they smell baking).
By far the worst odor i encounter regularly comes from the Hale and Hearty soup factory I pass by on my way to my business in Brooklyn. I don't like their soups at all, which are sold everywhere in the city, and their factory in Bushwick strongly stinks up the block pretty much daily. I would have to move if I lived near it.
I don't get why people use those air fresheners, Overly strong cloying noxious scents, and I can't help but feel like I'm breathing in little mico-cancer chemical bits. Same for fabric softener except that it's getting rubbed into your skin, your body's largest organ, on a daily basis.
The funnest thing I did scent related, though, was telling my ex that whenever you smelled someone's fart, you were ingesting tiny little bits of that persons poo into your system. Squicked him out pretty bad.
posted by newpotato at 6:14 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I work in a place that if you can medically document HFOC compounds, they will train the people on the floor not to use them in a manner that sends people home from work. Personal scents, cleaning products, air fresheners, etc.

Regarding smoking food and neighbors...several of my neighbors use wood stoves. We don't use one, but we have bonfire parties. It all works out. This differs substantially from when I was in Jordan and people openly burned trash that could be harsh smoke and was avoided.
posted by childofTethys at 6:41 AM on April 19, 2015


Metafilter: ashamed poops in a small office environment.
posted by glasseyes at 7:05 AM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


the candle on the line that seemed to me to represent 'chemical toilet liquid' was meant to be 'lilac'

There's a category of women's perfume that I refer to as "insecticide perfume." The industry calls it "floral."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:37 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


My father was an Air Force pilot who flew B-52s, among other things. I would visit their cockpits during Open House and always noticed a pervasive rubbery smell which I attributed to oxygen masks and hoses. Strong, but not unpleasant.

Years later the family was driving through the countryside on a warm summer day, windows rolled down, and that distinctive odor wafted in. Wondering what it was doing out in the middle of nowhere, I asked what the smell was. Turns out a B-52 cockpit smells like skunk.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:47 AM on April 19, 2015


I can't go into a candle shop, the mix of scents gives me a splitting headache.
posted by jonmc at 8:01 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't know what a crematorium smells like in operation, and I don't want to know.

the smell of the funeral ghats in the middle of the summer is not something you easily forget, but what really stuck with me was how it forever ruined sandalwood incense for me.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:06 AM on April 19, 2015


There is nothing worse to my nose then an air freshener that only just covers up a smell and doesn't have some sort of actual odor killing/limiting function. The nastier smell is still there! To me they merge together in this competing mass of smell that ends up making me feel more ill then if I had to deal with either one on it's own.

Lavender scented cat pee.
Fresh linen scented fish.
Tropical flower mold and mildew.

I have lots of animals so I know the stink that they can leave in our shared habitat. You won't find any lavender cat pee smell in my house though. You will find lots of odor absorbing tech that may have a faint scent that's not meant as a cover.

At least things like Febreeze do attack the actual smell even if they did have to market it more as a nice smelling air freshener.
posted by Jalliah at 8:08 AM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


At least things like Febreeze do attack the actual smell

This has not been my experience with Febreze-users, but then I haven't been around anyone who tried to douse themselves in the unscented variety, so perhaps it really does do something to the underlying smell. Still not sure I believe it really does anything that just spraying water on wouldn't.
posted by asperity at 8:24 AM on April 19, 2015


This has not been my experience with Febreze-users, but then I haven't been around anyone who tried to douse themselves in the unscented variety, so perhaps it really does do something to the underlying smell. Still not sure I believe it really does anything that just spraying water on wouldn't.

There is an actual chemical in it that deals with smells. They first tried to market it this way but people would use it, the smell would go away and they'd forget about it. So it didn't sell well. It wasn't until they marketed it differently and connected it's scents with 'yes it's now freshly clean feeling' that it sold.
posted by Jalliah at 8:35 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


That candy factory in Cambridge makes Junior Mints on certain days, and I think it's pleasant to be down there for that.

We live across the street from an Indian take-out restaurant, and in the mornings when I leave for work it always smells like delicious tikka masala and It makes me very hungry.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:38 AM on April 19, 2015


The density of fry shops makes certain parts of my city smell constantly of aerosolized vegetable oil. Not exactly unpleasant, but does evoke traumatic memories of the year I worked a mcdonalds.

Also, the world will not be free until the last patchouli wearer chokes to death inhaling the last can of Axe body spray.
posted by logicpunk at 8:40 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


the really weird vegetable oil thing is when you get that smell coming out of a car that runs on the stuff. why, car. why you smell like fries?
posted by NoraReed at 8:42 AM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was reminded of this thread taking the bus out of town today, when a young man sat behind me who, I believe, began his day by emptying an entire bottle of cologne on his head. Within seconds I had a splitting headache, and moved to another seat, but I couldn't un-smell the stink.

Why do people overuse scented water? And why is it almost always invariably a young guy?

itisamystery.jpg
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:44 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the worse smell I had to live with was the smell of the pigs in the rented barn next door. This was just a small red barn style piggery not a huge hog barn factory thing. Man it was awful when the wind blew certain directions. There was just no doing anything with making that smell go away.

I was so happy when the barn became just storage for farm equipment.

I lived in a paper mill town for a few months once. That was a bad smell but I did get used to it. That smell stuck to everything though. It was really gross going home for a visit and opening my suitcase to paper mill smell and realizing that I must smell like paper mill. At least in the town it was a perfume that everyone wore.
posted by Jalliah at 8:46 AM on April 19, 2015


Why do people overuse scented water? And why is it almost always invariably a young guy?

Because it's supposed to make the ladies fall down at their feet?

At least that's what commercials tell me it's supposed to do when they wear it.
posted by Jalliah at 8:49 AM on April 19, 2015


Smell is other people.
posted by talking leaf at 8:56 AM on April 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Plennnnty of women overuse perfume, though they are less likely than young men because in general terms they are much more practiced with the nuances of personal presentation because of societal expectations they face.

I will say, the only time I ever had multiple random women I was in no way involved with comment that I smelled nice was when I wore the Axe Dark Temptation body spray. ("Everyone knows that women can't resist the the scent of chocolate..." Gah.) Never happened with classier stuff. But, I can't really compare because I have no idea how many people had a negative reaction to the scent but didn't say anything.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:00 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not the women in my office! I can tell who walks by my cubicle without turning around just by the overwhelming smell that they all leave in their wake.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:05 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is nothing worse to my nose then an air freshener that only just covers up a smell and doesn't have some sort of actual odor killing/limiting function.

I work in a densely populated cubicle farm and the guy across the aisle and one desk up from me is an extremely heavy smoker who smokes indoors at home, so he smells very strongly like the inside of an overflowing ashtray and so does all the airspace around him in roughly a 12 foot radius. Gives me a crushing headache and makes me nauseous, but what makes it even worse is when the lady who sits across the aisle from me and directly behind this guy rolls into work about an hour after the guy gets in, because then she'll whip out her special lavender-sage "space purifying/aura cleansing" room spray that her shamanic healer makes and she'll hose down the air around her. She knows that the combo of scents is not great for most of the people around her, but she straight up does not care enough about that... she'll spray it all over the place and then look me right in the eye and say she's sorry and she knows that the smell of her room spray over the smoke smell is really awful and tends to give me a migraine but she just can't deal with the smoke smell and her special spray is just so calming for her...

She's a really really nice lady in pretty much all other regards and that's pretty much the only thing that's prevented me from telling her to take her stupid aura cleansing migraine inducing room spray and shove it so far up her own ass that she chokes on it.
posted by palomar at 9:21 AM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


literaly shit, literally human shit particulates touching the inside of your nose
whenever you smelled someone's fart, you were ingesting tiny little bits of that persons poo into your system

The smells associated with feces and flatulence are caused by the metabolic byproducts of intestinal bacteria--mostly sulfides and indoles. These are small compounds which travel readily in the air. Fecal matter is heavier and doesn't carry through the air to the same degree.

THE MORE YOU KNOW ===☆
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:26 AM on April 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


Thank you dephlogisticated. I can now sleep at night.
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:28 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's a chocolate factory downtown in Chicago, so every once in a while a chunk of the city smells like brownies. There's even a twitter account dedicated to tracking the smell.

In my Chicago biking days, Blommer's chocolate provided that extra inspiration I needed to make it up Halsted all the way to Rogers Park. A whiff of wonderful chocolate goodness letting me know that once I get home I can eat all the damn chocolate I want, since I just biked 40 blocks each way to work and back. I miss that smell. Also the wonderbread factory out in the south suburbs. After giving up the slaughterhouses, it seems like Chicago has gone full baked-goods aromas.
posted by dis_integration at 9:30 AM on April 19, 2015


In school, one of the science teachers explained evaporation to us by licking her finger, touching it to the board and watching it dry. She would then exclaim "HA HA! Now you're all breathing my spit!"

It seemed crass, but it was highly preferable to the ones with a stick up their ass.
posted by wierdo at 9:40 AM on April 19, 2015


The smells associated with feces and flatulence are caused by the metabolic byproducts of intestinal bacteria--mostly sulfides and indoles. These are small compounds which travel readily in the air. Fecal matter is heavier and doesn't carry through the air to the same degree.

Similarly, the smells from open sewers, outhouses, and other open-air feces disposal methods are often from anaerobic decomposition, rather than the poop itself.

when I said open sewers--literaly shit, literally human shit particulates touching the inside of your nose--stinks, I'm told they "aren't that bad"

That was me. I've lived near (and worked on) open sewers lots of times, and it doesn't bother me at all. I can smell it at first, and then stop smelling it after a few days.

Conversely, artificial smells (especially scented candles and bad cologne) really bother me and I'd like nothing more than to never smell them again. That's just me, and is no doubt unreflective of most people's experiences. (Certainly people seem to love those candles, and I smell a lot of bad perfume.)
posted by Dip Flash at 9:41 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why do people overuse scented water? And why is it almost always invariably a young guy?

This is utterly contrary to my own experience, in which it is invariably late-middle-aged women who overindulge in the perfume. Can't say I've ever smelled a young guy's cologne.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:42 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


If it hasn't already been invented yet I think we need to make a super duper, small area, air desmeller, personal fresh air bubble creator. This contraption sits in your cubicle, sucks in the air and wafts out gentle desmelled air with enough force that you can sit in a nice bubble/cloud of fresh air.
posted by Jalliah at 9:44 AM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is utterly contrary to my own experience, in which it is invariably late-middle-aged women who overindulge in the perfume. Can't say I've ever smelled a young guy's cologne.

This can be explained by age a lot of the time. Sense of smell can diminish with aging so people don't realize just how strong it is because to them it's not. This is also why older people can tend towards using a lot more salt as the ability to taste diminishes.
posted by Jalliah at 9:48 AM on April 19, 2015


Fecal matter is heavier and doesn't carry through the air to the same degree.

Similarly, the smells from open sewers, outhouses, and other open-air feces disposal methods are often from anaerobic decomposition, rather than the poop itself.


Thank you so much, you guys! Now I can get rid of my OM10. And the Xanax.

and update my OK Cupid pictures
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:56 AM on April 19, 2015


Also perfume has a shelf life, so middle-aged ladies tend to get the big fancy bottles as gifts and use them slowly over a few years and don't notice with they start to sour.

I'll agree with Dip Flash, shit's not that bad. I worked for a summer as an intern at the process control laboratory at a waste water treatment plant. Sure, sewage smells bad, and there's the ingrained revulsion reflex, but there are a lot of smells that are more sickening for many people but we don't have any cultural inhibitions from sharing these strong scents.
posted by peeedro at 9:58 AM on April 19, 2015


In my Chicago biking days, Blommer's chocolate provided that extra inspiration I needed to make it up Halsted all the way to Rogers Park. A whiff of wonderful chocolate goodness letting me know that once I get home I can eat all the damn chocolate I want, since I just biked 40 blocks each way to work and back. I miss that smell.

Am I the only person who doesn't like the smell of the Blommer chocolate factory?
posted by hoyland at 10:18 AM on April 19, 2015


One of my favorite birding spots is the Las Gallinas waste treatment center in Marin. After the sewage undergoes some initial treatment in big metal tanks, it gets filtered through a series of ponds, which are host to fish, herons, egrets, ducks, rails, muskrats and otters, and are surrounded by fields (gophers! raptors!) and tidal marsh. The parking lot is right next to the initial treatment tanks, and hooooo boy it can smell terrible, especially in the summer. But my nose always got used to it pretty quickly, and once away from the immediate tank area the scent diminishes considerably. And it's never given me a headache or coughing fits like too-much-perfume wearers in enclosed spaces have caused me.
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jalliah - f it hasn't already been invented yet...

Cold Atmospheric Plasma/Electric Discharge Plasma.

Most good indoor air purifiers use this technology; it creates short lived short range hydroxyl radicals that can react with volatile organic compounds (VOC). When indoor air is circulated through them, the radicals react with the VOCs and either renders them non-smelly or ionizes them so the HEPA filter can take it out of the air more efficiently.
posted by porpoise at 10:37 AM on April 19, 2015


(Interestingly, I got jumped on when I called perfume and air fresheners "innocuous" but when I said open sewers--literaly shit, literally human shit particulates touching the inside of your nose--stinks, I'm told they "aren't that bad". )

I do feel that you're ignoring the distinction that people are making between natural smells (which may be unpleasant or gross) and chemical smells, which cause real, actual health problems for a not-insignificant number of people.

I would very much prefer to not get blinding headaches and/or nausea when people decide to spray their chemical shit around offices, but unfortunately I have no control over this. It's such a common issue that the Fortune 500 company I now work for has a specific policy (and notes hanging everywhere) asking people to please refrain from spraying fragrances on the premises out of respect for those with chemical sensitivities.

I say this as a person who likes to wear perfume (using the "one, two, step through" rule). I fully respect and support this policy in shared spaces.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:08 AM on April 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought perfumes didn't so much sour but just dulled with age. Like the important volatile compounds that make they unique evaporate off/degrade and leave only the most base scents.

Makes me sad since my favorite cologne isn't produced anymore and knowing that over time it won't be as good as it was.
posted by Ferreous at 11:16 AM on April 19, 2015


I do feel that you're ignoring the distinction that people are making between natural smells (which may be unpleasant or gross) and chemical smells, which cause real, actual health problems for a not-insignificant number of people.

I would very much prefer to not get blinding headaches and/or nausea when people decide to spray their chemical shit around offices, but unfortunately I have no control over this.


Just curious, what chemicals are in the air fresheners that are causing these reactions in so many people? Seems like it would be a good idea to reformulate them.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:20 AM on April 19, 2015


There are definitely some smells that are migraine triggers for me, and sadly they're not even particularly bad smells. Bleach is probably my biggest one. I can't use cleaning supplies with bleach in them without getting really sick. Also, I can't go into a Bed, Bath and Beyond, Yankee Candle, or Lush store without being out for the day. I don't think I've ever gotten a migraine from someone's personal product use, though, or at least I haven't put it together, but the stores are enough of a sensory assault to make me sick. Luckily, mall stores are pretty easy to avoid. Bleach is kind of a pain in the ass: I have a sneaking suspicion that my apartment is not as clean as it should be, but it's as clean as it can be without me spending two days a week curled up in a ball in a darkened room, so it's just going to have to do.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:24 AM on April 19, 2015


Dammit people! Now I need to bake brownies! I used to work in a building next to a charcoal grilled burger joint....we moved to a location across the street from a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop.
Calories happened.
posted by mightshould at 12:57 PM on April 19, 2015


Wait, um, North Carolina BBQ, or Texas BBQ?
posted by Cookiebastard at 1:01 PM on April 19, 2015


Just curious, what chemicals are in the air fresheners that are causing these reactions in so many people? Seems like it would be a good idea to reformulate them.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, the answer is VOCs such as benzene and formaldehyde, as well as phthalates. I think it would definitely be a good idea to reformulate them, but until the manufacturers decide to do so, maybe it's not out of line to ask that people stop using them indiscriminately?
posted by KathrynT at 1:05 PM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


NC bbq. Eastern style. The one true style. The rest doesn't go with KK donuts .....there was a bbq joint a few blocks over....
posted by mightshould at 1:08 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


According to the National Resources Defense Council, the answer is VOCs such as benzene and formaldehyde, as well as phthalates.

Thanks, looks like it needs more study but it definitely sounds plausible.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:20 PM on April 19, 2015


Thanks, looks like it needs more study but it definitely sounds plausible.

It's mystifying to me why we don't have labeling requirements for these products.
posted by KathrynT at 2:22 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just curious, what chemicals are in the air fresheners that are causing these reactions in so many people? Seems like it would be a good idea to reformulate them.

In the U.S., anyway, the FDA doesn't require the fragrance industry to divulge their ingredients like it does with other products, because the ingredients are considered "trade secrets." The FDA does ban the use of about 10 chemicals in cosmetics but that's as far as it goes. You could be burning just about anything in that scented candle without knowing it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:24 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think we should turn this thread into a book called Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Poop, But Were Afraid to Ask for Fear Somebody Might Actually Answer. (It could be published by Randung House.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:33 PM on April 19, 2015


Am I the only person who doesn't like the smell of the Blommer chocolate factory?
posted by hoyland at 12:18 PM on April 19


As a Chicagoan, it's one of things whose existence I love because of the local color but I don't actually care for it either.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:34 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's mystifying to me why we don't have labeling requirements for these products.

We don't even require ingredient lists on cigarettes despite an extremely active regulation regime. Outside of food I guess it just hasn't been made a priority.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:48 PM on April 19, 2015


an extremely heavy smoker who smokes indoors at home, so he smells very strongly like the inside of an overflowing ashtray and so does all the airspace around him in roughly a 12 foot radius. Gives me a crushing headache and makes me nauseous

At my previous job, I worked in home services - visiting the elderly in their private homes to clean for them. Quite a few of them were smokers, and most of them had the sense to not light up when I was over, but not everyone. There was one house I dreaded going to - a married couple, both heavy smokers - the wife, who smoked cigarettes, and the husband, who smoked Coffee Creme cigars. Continuously.

I would hang up my coat outdoors, but of course this wouldn't be enough. Their house was enormous, too, and would take so long to clean that by the time I left, thoroughly stewed in that smoke, the smell would be in my clothes, my hair and my lungs, and I'd have a pounding headache for the rest of the day.

For the record, the smell of cigarettes do not bother me all that much. Pipe smoke, of course, is lovely. But cigars, to me, smell like someone burning dogshit on a pile of tires.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:51 PM on April 19, 2015


Here's more on fragrance sensitivity (from a workplace perspective).
posted by triggerfinger at 4:02 PM on April 19, 2015


I went to look at a house for sale in western MA that seemed like an extraordinarily good deal until I pulled up and realized it was directly across from Yankee Candle's factory. I didn't even get out of the car.
posted by Camofrog at 4:09 PM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Cigars. Gah. I can't honestly see any other reason for smoking them in a public space (that isn't a cigar bar) other than to say that you're claiming the space as your own. It's like a show of odor dominance, as it blankets the area. Then again, I have yet to meet a public-space cigar smoker who wasn't also an asshole.

the complex where my shop is, it's a row of three half size shipping containers converted to, in order, a beer bar, a fried chicken shop, and my place, where I do burgers, hot dogs, and bbq. both the chicken place and my shop have no smoking signs posted in the covered area that runs along the three shops, but there is a smoking area in front of the bar. Because of our exhaust fans (which we need whenever we're cooking, because hot) I can smell anytime anyone is smoking down the way.

Yesterday, a guy sat down in front of the chicken place, right in front of a no smoking sign and lit up a cigar. I smelled it immediately, stopped what I was doing, and went out to tell him it was a no smoking area. He didn't complain, and instead went down toward the beer box, but he did stay until he finished his full sized cigar, which I could smell the whole time. Not a fan.

posted by Ghidorah at 5:50 PM on April 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's like a show of odor dominance, as it blankets the area.

You've reminded me of an exchange on an episode of CHEERS:

SAM: (entering the bar) Man, something stinks. Is someone boiling tar in here?
COACH: Nah, it's my cigar.
SAM: ....Could someone please boil some tar in here?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:04 PM on April 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah. I don't want to be a jerk, but I'm kind of nervous about this! I'm sure I'll get used to it, and I like to think of myself as a non-whiny, unflappable urban person, but I don't know if I want to spend my life smelling like beer and sauerkraut.

My friend decided to make kimchi in his house. He did the whole operation in his basement. In proper containers, and mostly inside a minifridge.

It stunk up the basement a LOT, and eventually stunk up the entire house. I can tolerate most smells and don't even care(although i'm not one of those low-sense-of-smell people) about quite a few. But HOLY SHIT that was nasty. It smelled like the sour notes of sweaty crotch combined with feet and pickles. It wasn't just like, the open jar of kimchi smell... it was NASTY. And he had bleached down all the surfaces involved besides the jars themselves.

Weird thing was, the smell was totally transient. I later bought the little under counter fridge he had been using for that off of him for $50. He had cleaned it thoroughly and left it for 5 months or so with a couple boxes of baking soda in it, and it just smells like plastic and fridge now.

But yea, imagine the way apple cider vinegar smells but worse. Ugh.

I work in a densely populated cubicle farm and the guy across the aisle and one desk up from me is an extremely heavy smoker who smokes indoors at home, so he smells very strongly like the inside of an overflowing ashtray and so does all the airspace around him in roughly a 12 foot radius.

Sigh. So in seattle, since it rains all the damn time and in a lot of places there's no good outdoor spot to smoke(and WAY too many apartment buildings allow indoor smoking, or just do nothing about it) a ton of people i know smoke inside. You can also smoke in most practice spaces, even though it's officially banned in bars/restaurants.

As a consequence, i know a bunch of people who pay lip service to smoking inside being "totally gross, man" but do it anyways out of laziness. They always turn on a fan, or try and do it "out the window" or whatever but then invariably i go home at the end of the night, tear my clothes off, and wake up smelling like that guy even though i don't even smoke.

It's still a miracle to me that i lived with a bunch of indoor smokers for 3 years and somehow managed to, according to my other friends and partner, never smell like cigarettes. Because now even if i only hang out in a place for a couple hours my clothes fucking reek, and my hair reeks for a couple days.

That gross sour empty-beer-can-full-of-butts day after clothes smell is one of the only things to me that smells worse than disgusting cheap air freshener. Other than i guess, disgusting air freshener AND that smell. And somehow, i'm always around that smell. Everywhere.

We don't even require ingredient lists on cigarettes despite an extremely active regulation regime. Outside of food I guess it just hasn't been made a priority.

I'd be willing to bet the lobbying against this is intense. Not just for cigarettes, but artificially scented stuff and "cosmetics" as well.
posted by emptythought at 7:36 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is not new. Back in the 70's we had a problem with the Advent plant manufacturing projection screen TVs out of styrene. The local EPA solution: Mask the styrene odor with a banana scent.
posted by Gungho at 7:58 AM on April 20, 2015


i used to have a job cleaning public toilets that were totally closed all night with automatic airfreshener in. The poo was caked on. Didn't eat breakfast. Had to take a deep breath, run in, pour bleach all over the poo in as many toilets as possible run out breath a bit, etc. Somehow the fake airfreshener made it worse. Also that stuff, if it's the aerosol/wallmounted type, is droplets so fine they're the right size to cause lung cancer (size of molecule, not substance, is what usually matters). The pump-action drips-on-the-floor type's safe
posted by maiamaia at 9:25 AM on April 21, 2015


on the other hand, in Czech Republic, men doing heavy labour (delivering beer barrels etc) don't wear deodorant, obviously you can smell it, but it's not for long (they're working) and it seems right and healthy somehow, it seems very artificial and wrong for someone sweating like a pig and caked in filth to be required to smell sweetly and it made me see and dislike that in the UK for the first time
posted by maiamaia at 9:27 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


From the Washington Post: Modern life smells so good it’s killing the cheap perfume industry

These tidbits were cringe inducing:
Big companies have helped deflate the scents industry by piling on with their own special smells. Verizon Wireless last year trademarked a “flowery musk” spritzed in some storefronts that, as Verizon lawyers said in trademark filings, help distinguish the cellphone giant from all the others.

United Airlines wants to trademark the fragrance it pumps into lounges and jet bridges at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, an herbal aroma the airline calls Landing that smells of cedar, sandalwood and orange peel. The smell, the airline has said, was designed to create “positive transition moments” for travelers by keeping them happy — or at least less peeved by potential delays.
posted by peeedro at 10:49 AM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


And then there's that piece of artillery called the Smellitzer, found inside all Disney parks. It can either make you feel like you're flying over orange groves in a flight simulator, or get you to come in and buy some chocolate chip cookies on Main Street.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:10 PM on April 21, 2015


"Natural" and "artificial" aren't ethical or medical categories.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:03 PM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


maiamaia is droplets so fine they're the right size to cause lung cancer (size of molecule, not substance, is what usually matters)

I'm sorry to do a 'someone on the internets is wrong' but this is not correct.

Cancer occurs when 1) the DNA of a cell (arranged as chromosomes) gets damaged, 2) and is not repaired correctly, 3) in a critical region that is involved with, typically, cell growth and maintenance which causes a cell to a) keep dividing, b) ignore built-in signals to self destruct, and/or c) stop telling the immune system that it's got something wrong with it. Seriously, messed up cells can display certain proteins on their surfaces which immune cells recognize as an "get rid of me" signal.

Things up to 2) happen all the time, every day, to many cells in your body. Cells can sense when something is seriously amiss which then causes them to delete themselves (apoptosis). Immune cells patrolling every inch of your body can also detect these self-dying cells and finish them off. The same immune cells also get rid of the cells that display that "get rid of me" signal.

So - what can cause damage to DNA?

Ionizing radiation - the decay of elements that produce high energy subatomic particles that

Oh. Wow. I'm sorry.
posted by porpoise at 3:20 AM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Natural" and "artificial" aren't ethical or medical categories.

Yes, absolutely. (I'm going to so steal this.)

This is so depressing.
posted by porpoise at 3:23 AM on April 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I worked a SRL show in the 90's where the fire dept said we could not use any fire. People learned there are worse things than fire!
I was in charge of a small jet engine that we used in shows and I had experimented in a earlier show Doom with Durian this actually caused a wave of reaction as the smell passed through the crowd.

My friend and I spent weeks working on this, he was a chemical engineer and got some cadaverine ,skatole and and a chemical that you get when you roast coffee that gives that nasty edge to the smell. We also sealed mackerel in seawater in 5 gallon buckets (aged 2 weeks) and I went to the flea market and bought armloads of cheap knockoff perfume.

None of these things smelled s bad as we hoped so we started mixing these and got really unpredictable results, the fish and coffee essence with a touch of cheap perfume was one of the most vile things I have ever smelled, you can only guess what my shed smelled like after this.

Armed with these things sealed in buckets we were ready.

The jet had a injector nozzle that was just after the exhaust turbine (about 800F) and before the whistle (did I forget to mention the whistle?) and the engine was on a swivel mount.
We had a hose and a sump pump attached to it so we could drop the pump into the buckets as needed. The smell would come out as a dense white fog with a nearly sub sonic moan from the whistle. Fortunately we were upwind, this was too much for many people.
We cleared out an area of people about 50ft across on one side of the performance area that smelled indescribable and it smelled like the audience had added some smells of their own.
Was told later that a lot of people showed up high on one thing or another so I can't really imagine what that would be like with the smells.
The smell lingered for weeks.
posted by boilermonster at 9:43 AM on April 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was at the mall last night, and got stuck walking behing=d two people smoking. *Inside the mall.*
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:16 AM on April 24, 2015


Smokers are like that.
There's a guy I have to walk past every day at the train station who stands on the No Smoking Beyond This Point sign.

I suspect he's making a point about Freedom.
posted by Mezentian at 7:19 AM on April 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Obviously other things besides radiation cause cancer. mesothelioma being but one example where particle size matters.
posted by Mitheral at 10:08 AM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


And after all that: Committee Votes No on Barbecue Smoke Ordinance.
posted by immlass at 10:25 AM on May 12, 2015


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