You’ve probably heard that one of the most powerful ways to elicit a memory is through our sense of smell (and science agrees). This seems to be especially true in the case of childhood memories. It might be the musty smell of old books at the library, the intoxicating scent of smelly colored markers, or the oddly alluring aroma of those little bouncy balls you get from vending machines. You smell it and you’re taken back.

No Pineapple in a Pineapple Bun

Because my parents worked such long hours, much of my childhood was spent with my grandparents. I still remember how their kitchen always smelled like dried Chinese herbs and how my grandpa’s bedroom — they slept in separate bedrooms, as appeared to be the custom among many older couples of that generation — had the distinct odor of mothballs.

Ovaltine Cafe

Image credit: Yutaka Seki (CC BY 2.0)

Growing up, I spent a considerable amount of time in Chinatown and easily one of my fondest memories was the ritual of going to one of the cafes with my grandpa. He’d always go to meet up with old friends and I’d be his adorable little grandson tagging along.

Whether we went to the Ovaltine Cafe on Hastings or the Goldstone Bakery on Keefer, the ritual was almost always the same.

Homestyle HK Cafe

I’d get a fresh pineapple bun and a cup of hot Horlicks, while the adults would get their coffee or milk tea. To this day, whenever I walk by a bakery and smell a fresh pineapple bun (which doesn’t actually have any pineapple in it), I think back to my childhood, sitting at the counter on the diner stool, carefully picking at the crust of my pineapple bun.

I think of this precious time I spent with my grandpa.

Memories of Chinese New Year

Unlike the regular New Year’s Day that we all celebrate on January 1st each year, the celebrations and observation of Chinese New Year typically extend over a period of about two weeks. And it is understandably filled with all sorts of traditions and superstitions. I never really thought much of them as a kid, since I was too busy trying to fit in as a “regular Canadian,” whatever that meant.

Mandarin oranges

That’s why I never really cared to notice that the formal dining table we had in our house would always have a plate of mandarin oranges set out during Chinese New Year. There’d be a plate out at my grandparents’ house too. And at my aunt’s. Even though I never really focused my attention on them, the smell of mandarin oranges permeates these memories.

It reminds me of the numerous family meals that we’d share and the lucky envelopes that I’d graciously accept from my elders. It reminds me of a more innocent time when it was easier to be happy and thankful. Life was simpler and more straightforward. Go to school. Get good grades. Eat your fruits and vegetables.

I suppose I’ve always known that these mandarin oranges are symbolic, representing promises of good luck and prosperity in the year to come. I’ve just never really stopped to think about it.

The Fresh Scent of a Clean House

For my part, and I can’t possibly be alone in this, I’ve always associated the Pine-Sol brand with the company’s original product. After all, it’s right there in its name. But if you’re looking for something a little different, you might consider the brightness of Lemon Fresh or the calming floral notes of Lavender Clean or Spring Blossom.


Me, I’m immediately drawn to Mandarin Sunrise. It’s the kind of fragrance that just brings back such positive memories, all while cutting through grease and offering the same cleaning power as its original counterpart.

It’s so easy to forget that cleaning products can actually smell good! I also really appreciate just how versatile Pine-Sol is, as I can use it to clean everything from my floors to my counters to my toilet bowls. I can even use it to get through the grease and grime on my stainless steel appliances, deodorizing with the vibrant, citrus aroma of mandarin oranges.

Breathe It All In


We oftentimes think that our memories are mostly colored by our senses of sight and hearing, but it really is remarkable just how big of a role our sense of smell can play. Certain aromas can elicit such an immediate and powerful emotional response, triggering memories that are otherwise long since forgotten.

What takes you back? Is it the smell of grandma’s apple pie, fresh out of the oven? Or how about fallen leaves in the crisp autumn air? Or maybe, like me, it’s mandarin oranges set out on the dining table.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are entirely my own.