The Real Reason Food Smells More Intense In The Winter

Maybe it's a simmering pot roast or a baking apple pie. Or perhaps it's a hot soup on the stove or a loaf of bread fresh from the oven. No matter what you're cooking up on a chilly winter day, there's no denying that the scents of your homemade creations fill your kitchen and your home. Yes, the aromas wafting out of the kitchen are strong because the windows are tightly shut during the colder months, but beyond that, there's actual science behind why food smells more intense in the winter.

One would think that smells would be more intense during the summer because of the high temperatures. NBC pointed out that certain rotting smells — think: a rancid bag of garbage — are definitely stronger in the summer months because the heat causes bacteria to multiply at record speed. In an interview with ABC Radio Brisbane, Dr. Heather Smyth, a scientist from the University of Queensland, claimed that foods smell stronger in the winter for similar reasons.

We often associate good food smells with cooler weather

"In the winter, when something has been cooked, it's hot and the smell compounds are in the air because the heat is generating them," Smyth told ABC Radio Brisbane. Interestingly, we smell rotten scents like trash less frequently in the winter because of the colder air, thus allowing room for more pleasant, hotter aromas, such as that steamy apple pie you've been thinking about since the start of this article. Unattractive scents are "not nearly as smelly, so you notice other hot intense smells easily," Smyth said.

Furthermore, Discovery claims that the sense of smell has the strongest connection with memory than the other four senses, and Smyth pointed out the link between the smell of certain foods, memories, our brains, and our everlasting quests for happiness. "There are long-term memories that are associated with comfort foods that our mother may have made for us when things are cool or dark," Smyth said. "It's food that we think picks us up and makes us feel better, so we detect those smells more."