Responses to the question ‘What would Santa smell like?’ have revealed a wide range of answers from children all over the world, depending on their age and where they live. Perfumer Penny Williams took the most popular answers and turned them into a fragrance that teachers can use to engage school children in discussions around their sense of smell…
Lisa Hipgrave, Director of IFRA UK, who undertook the research, says ‘We are working with a group of people across the fragrance industry to develop ways to help people understand and benefit from a greater awareness of their sense of smell. Whilst this is a lighthearted approach to get us all in the Christmas spirit which we hope people will try at home, it is part of a wider piece of the work of that group. We have created a new website called fragrancematters.org to help people find out more about the importance of their sense of smell – from new and quirky facts, to taking a deeper dive into the world of olfaction through highlighting wider research, activities and events.’
So, what were their answers? ‘Soot and sweat’ was a popular response, while others answered ‘leather, boot polish and velvet’ and ‘pine trees, from brushing past them on his journey, and from Christmas trees as he places presents under trees in hopeful homes.’ More poetically inclined children decided he might smell of ‘nose-tingling magic and moonlight’ or ‘starry nights from his journey through the night sky’ and even ‘like space, perhaps with a little whisky’. Contributions from the USA included ‘the New York night sky just before snowfall’, and Canadadian children said ‘the first snow of winter on the pine woods’, while responses from Australia included ‘countless beach barbecues’.
Unsurprisingly, food and drink was a major theme, with cinnamon, gingerbread and mince pies appearing most often. Many children think that Santa smells of milk and biscuits, until they reach around 14 years of age, when Santa’s snacks switched to ‘sherry or brandy and mince pies’.
British perfumer Penny Williams, Chairperson of the IFRA UK working group, Vice Chair of the IFRA UK Technical committee and founder of Orchadia Ltd, says: ‘The human sense of smell is incredible. We take around 20,000 breaths a day and each one is an opportunity to learn about our surroundings. Inside our nose are olfactory bulbs, which are linked directly to our brain and create a memory link. That is why our sense of smell is so important to our wellbeing and feeling connected. Through our noses, we can also sense temperature and humidity. Both also affect how well we can smell – and smell is also the flavour of food. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how losing our sense of smell can make us feel disconnected. Our sense of smell isn’t just about the present, it’s about the past and can create feelings of happiness and nostalgia.’ She continues:
‘We want to bring back that innocent joy, comfort and sense of happiness to pupils in the schools we are working with. However, this is such a fun experiment for anyone of any age, so we are inviting people across the UK to spark up the discussion with family and friends. Using everyday objects and a few Christmas treats you can quickly get your olfactory sense working. Our nose is connected to a part of our nervous system which is responsible for detecting heat (chilli) and cold (menthol). So, menthol, found in peppermint and often in toothpaste, has a physical cooling effect that we can feel and mince pies might create a feeling of warmth. The different sensations and feelings evoked by our sense of smell comes from many places and somehow comes together in a wonderful way: rather like Christmas.’
Using these responses, Orchadia created a special fragrance that follows Santa’s journey with a mixture of 48 traditional and modern ingredients that have made an intriguing and bold scent. Most noticeable on first spray are smoke and ozone –using the uniquely woody smokey scent of vetiver and an ingredient that smells like fresh water. Menthol hints at snow flurries in cold air. Also featured are pine needle and davana oil, which is reminiscent of Christmas pudding. There’s even the leathery scent of reins next to reindeer fur, accompanied by earthy patchouli oil. The fresh forest notes are extended with cedar, eventually fading to vanilla and soft moss.
Victoria Osborne, Teacher at Hinchingbrooke School in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, says ‘The children are going to have so much fun discussing what Santa smells like as part of their STEM learning. It is a really lovely way to get them to use their own personal experiences and memories whilst also learning about the science of smell. We are going to have a science lab that smells like Christmas has come early as we will be taking time to properly breathe in the different layers of smells in mince pies and to take time to notice if something created a warm or a cooling smell.’
Children respond amazingly and often explain smells in the most creatively imaginative ways, so if you find yourself desperate for a way to entertain the kids during the holidays, why not gather together some ingredients from your pantry (and toothpaste from the bathroom!) to create a sensory station in your own home, where children can explore their sense of smell? Ask them to smell each ingredient and describe how it smells. you can use questions we ask people to think about at our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops:
If this was a material, would it be velvet, suede, linen, fluffy towels…?
If this was a musical instrument, which would it be?
Would it be loud or quiet? High or low-pitched? Fast or slow?
‘Marty the Mighty Nose is a free resource for everyone offering easy and inspiring ideas for using the sense of smell to bring learning to life. The project is fronted by Marty, the faraway leader of a tribe of smell-loving characters who love nothing better than to hunt out interesting whiffs.‘
If you click on the link, above, you’ll be taken to the website where you can download all the assets you’ll need for the smell-themed session.
The Fragrance Foundation say:
‘Whether it is inviting children to develop their use of simile and metaphor in English by writing smell-inspired poems or learning about history through the stinky aromas of the past (Ancient Egyptian Mummification anyone?), structured activities incorporating fragrance and smell can truly support and inspire pupils of all abilities.
At Key Stage 2 of the primary National Curriculum, your children are developing their reasoning and persuasive skills, as well as an openness and curiosity about the world. The Marty the Mighty Nose Workshops, organised by The Fragrance Foundation, will play to these unique and new found strengths whilst also helping to pen communications between students as well as teachers.
Use Marty the Mighty Nose, the smell-finder-in-chief of a faraway jungle tribe, to get your pupils to use their sense of smell as inspiration to develop pupils’ descriptive vocabulary and imaginative writing.
You can sit back and relax while Richard E. Grant guides the children through your very own workshop, click here for the videos.
You will need a couple of print outs and smelly materials to bring your workshop to life. Download the info here.
Each workshop lasts for one hour for a whole class, and is suitable for children aged 7-11. Content this year is specifically tailored to the English Primary National Curriculum.
Marty the Mighty Nose is supported by the Fragrance Foundation, a not-for-profit educational body. Members come from across the fragrance industry and are supporting the scheme as a philanthropic initiative.
After your workshop, encourage your children to enter The Mighty Nose Awards Competition.
See our entry categories, eligibility, the brief, and key date. See Info
Get cooking! One downloadable pack containing everything you need to enter, from ideas for children to cover sheets for your class.Get Entry Pack’
Do you know a child aged 7-11 who loves writing and exploring their sense of smell? Get those nostrils in training, for The Fragrance Foundation‘s Marty the Mighty Nose Awards are once again open for smell-inspired poetic entries!
Kids tend to be far more naturally connected to their sense of smell than most adults, and the annual competition invites Key Stage Two pupils to explore this sense even more, by taking ‘…an aromatic approach to creative writing, as we invite them to write their own smell-inspired poems for the chance to win prizes for themselves and for their schools.’
The Fragrance Foundation say: ‘Whether it is inviting children to develop their use of simile and metaphor in English by writing smell-inspired poems or learning about history through the stinky aromas of the past (Ancient Egyptian Mummification anyone?), structured activities incorporating fragrance and smell can truly support and inspire pupils of all abilities.’
Marty the Mighty Nose entries can be made by schools, or by individual parents and guardians, and details of the competition and how to submit an entry are explained, below, and the more who join in, the merrier Marty will be.
The Fragrance Foundation encourage pupils to write poems inspired by the sense of smell (the whiffy socks of an older brother has been a previous winner’s poetic theme!) and these are then read and chosen by a distinguished panel of judges each year, including once again, this year, the multi-talented (and huge fragrance fan) Richard E. Grant!
Entering Marty The Mighty Nose Awards is easy – download the entry pack here. The deadline for submissions is the 9th December 2019, and entries can be sent online or through the post. Please note entires must be submitted by a teacher or guradian.
We cannot wait to read these pongy poems, and wish everyone who enters the very best of luck!
Get those nostrils flapping in preparation, for The Fragrance Foundation‘s Marty the Mighty Nose Awards are once again open for smell-inspired poetic writing…
The annual competition invites Key Stage Two pupils (aged 7-11) to ‘take an aromatic approach to creative writing, as we invite them to write their own smell-inspired poems for the chance to win prizes for themselves and for their schools.’ The Fragrance Foundation say: ‘Whether it is inviting children to develop their use of simile and metaphor in English by writing smell-inspired poems or learning about history through the stinky aromas of the past (Ancient Egyptian Mummification anyone?), structured activities incorporating fragrance and smell can truly support and inspire pupils of all abilities.’
Entries can be made by schools, by individual parents and guardians, and details of the competition and how to submit an entry are explained, below…
The Fragrance Foundation encourage pupils to write poems inspired by the sense of smell (the whiffy socks of an older brother has been a previous winner’s poetic theme!) and these are then read and chosen by a distinguished panel of judges each year, with awards being presented to the children and schools during the prestigious Jasmine Awards ceremony, held at BAFTA.
Known as ‘The Oscars for fragrance journalism’, The Jasmine’s are highly sought after, celebrating innovative and creative fragrance writing from the top-selling glossy magazines, newspapers, independent blogs and beyond. And when The Mighty Nose Awards are read out during the ceremony, there’s always a ripple of absolute delight within the industry professionals present.
Teachers can view and download materials to aid the scent training, and request t-shirts and scratch-‘n-sniff stickers from the Marty the Mighty Nose website, but for now, why not sit back and relax while Richard E. Grant guides you through your very own workshop in the film, below?
Entering The Mighty Nose Awards is easy – download the entry pack here.
We’ve been highly honoured at The Perfume Society to be nominated for and win several Jasmine Awards, and always wonder if the talented children who enter the awards with their smell-inspired poems could well be the fragrance writers – and noses behind the fragrances of the future! So get those kids’ noses in training…
Written by Suzy Nightingale
Whenever people are asked what their favourite smells are, along with ‘bread baking ‘, ‘freshly cut grass’ and (oddly) ‘petrol’/gasoline’ we most often find that the smell of their loved one is key. Top of that list is, for many, the smell of their children – and of course here poetic license must come in to play… When those people close their eyes and fondly imgine the scent of their beloved offspring, they are possibly skipping over the inevitable secretions, spillages and lumps of baby food slowly drying on wallpaper and instead focusing on the clean, warm, softly powdered babe in arms.
Renowned for their brilliant lifelike bottling of weird and wonderful smells inspired by life – from Dirt and Thunderstorm to Gin & Tonic – happily, The Library of Fragrance have captured the essence of these smells in a triplet of scents. New Baby, Baby Powder and Baby Shampoo are the spriz-able evocations of blissful, comforting memories. Their Baby Powder cologne was already on the market and proved such a phenomenal success they’ve launched it in a jumbo size of 120ml (compared to their usual 30ml bottles) and with two new scented siblings to join the 109 already in the family.
And for this new launch, The Library of Fragrance have really put in the hours (well, years) of research, as the New Baby cologne was hotly anticipated. As they explain: ‘It’s quite a relief for us to finally launch this fragrance – one that a customer asks for each and every week – after no less than 15 years of development…’
As we learned at the IFRA Fragrance Forum recently, it really does seem as though smells from our childhood have a particularly strong influence over our scent preferences in later life, and this was something The Library of Fragrance took very seriously while reserching and developing these fragrances, consulting with Dr. Rachel Herz, the internationally acclaimed leading expert in scent psychology and author of best- seller, The Scent of Desire.
Explains Rachel, ‘Our olfactory system is the very first sense to develop and we actually have a fully functioning sense of smell by the time we are twelve weeks in the womb. This means that even before we are born we are learning about the important scents in our environment, such as what our mother eats, and by the time we are born we are fully able to learn how to make sense of the world through our nose and to remember important associations. For example, studies have now shown that babies can distinguish the scent of their own mothers, from other mothers, only hours after birth.
Odour is indelibly embedded into the infant’s world in a way that other senses are not. Our visual system, in stark contrast, takes several years after we are born to mature to a point that visual experiences can be fully processed, stored and recalled. The sight of a bottle of Baby Powder won’t mean anything to an infant, but the smell of Baby Powder – if it was used on us as babies – will immediately elicit feelings that are associated with being cared for, soothed and cradled.’
Among the myriad highly complex and sophisticated perfumes available on the market, it’s interesting to note that when we seek comfort in these often distressing times – it’s those simple pleasures we reach for time and again to cosset and soothe with happy scent memories…
‘Inspired by the iconic talc from Johnson & Johnson, this scent really triggers strong emotional links. Advancing scientific research is showing us that scent is processed deep within a part of our brains that also manages emotion and memories. It’s not likely that many of us have tangible memories of being a baby, but it’s very likely that the scent of our Baby Powder fragrance subliminally takes us right back to feeling soothed, cradled and cared for. And who doesn’t want to feel like that at least some of the time?’ The Library of Fragrance Baby Powder £30 for 120ml Cologne
‘Powdery, creamy and enveloping, its soothing, hushed tones balance the nostalgic aromas of baby talc and shampoo with a blend of musks that somehow capture the scents of warm skin and clean, soft laundry, taking us right back to those very earliest of days.’
The Library of Fragrance New Baby £15 for 30ml Cologne
‘Inspired by the nostalgic scent of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, this is one of the freshest, cleanest, happiest smells on earth. It somehow makes us feel as we imagine we did then, splashing around and giggling from under bubbly beards.’ The Library of Fragrance Baby Shampoo£15 for 30ml
Buy them at thelibraryoffragrance.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale