More than half of the UK’s favourite smells are food related, study finds

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In a survey conducted by BAT for VELO at the height of our nation-wide Lockdown, the UK’s best and worst smells have been revealed, along with the smells that the UK miss the most whilst staying safe at home. 

While the UK’s favourite smell has been revealed to be that of freshly baked bread (30%), the smell that the nation has missed the most during lockdown is the smell of the seaside, with over a quarter of survey respondents noting this as their most missed smell. Even those living near the sea agree, with both Brighton (27%) and Plymouth (30%) residents admitting to missing this smell the most.

The smells of our favourite foods and drinks make up four of the top 10 most-missed smells. Fresh bread baking in bakeries is the second most missed smell overall, with a quarter of the population missing this unmistakable scent. The aroma of freshly ground coffee has been revealed to be the fifth most missed smell during lockdown (13%). Similarly, 13% of the UK miss the smell of a Sunday pub lunch, and 12% miss the scent of fried chips! Two very classic British foods.  

The seaside wasn’t the only outdoors smell the population have missed either. The smell of the countryside and that of freshly cut grass were missed in equal measure (14%), proving that we’ve most definitely missed being outdoors the most during the height of Lockdown!

When it comes to overall favourite smells across the UK, freshly baked bread beats everything else to top of the board in most regions around the country. However, in the North East, the smell of frying bacon came out on top (27%). Whilst in Wales (28%), Yorkshire and the Humber (29%), and the East Midlands (29%), the smell of fresh coffee sits firmly as the favourite smell. Greater London admitted to enjoying the scent of vanilla the most (25%), and for Northern Ireland, the smell of chocolate (38%).

Looking at different ages, those aged 18-24 miss the sweeter things in life more than anything else during lockdown, with vanilla (28%), chocolate (23%) and fresh doughnuts amongst their top smells (20%). Those aged 25-34 were the only age group to admit to enjoying the smell of freshly washed clothes (18%), and the 45-54s were the only group to rate the smell of a Sunday roast (20%) amongst their favourite aromas.

The over 55s miss the finer things in life, with what we can assume is the smell of a full English outside in the garden – the top 5 for this age group combines these five prominent smells; fresh bread (42%), fresh coffee (37%)  frying bacon (29%), freshly cut grass (34%) and the seaside (26%).

VELO also looked at the UK’s worst smells, and unsurprisingly, the smell of vomit was widely agreed to be the worst (62%). This is particularly true for females with 69% agreeing vomit is the most awful smell, while men rate sewage as their worst smell (55%). Almost half of the UK (46%) went on to note that the smell of rotten milk also sits firmly in this list, followed by body odour (45%) and public toilets (44%) – nothing a bit of social distancing can’t solve.

Mia Kjaeras Birkenfeldt, VELO brand manager, said: “As the UK has been in and out of lockdown, we’ve all grown to appreciate the smaller things in life but still miss even the tiniest of things from our “normal” lives before the pandemic. Smell – like taste – is such a large receptor and just one small smell can bring back so many memories. This is why Velo wanted to find out what really are our favourite smells and what we’ve been missing the most while staying at home. It’s interesting to see that we’re missing the smell of the seaside the most, and we’re sure everyone will be happy to see the opening of cafes and coffee shops again, so we can enjoy the smell of fresh bread and coffee once more.”