By: Chrysa Smith


There’s still a little summer left. So, I heat up the grill and throw on a few ‘dogs’. Now of course, I recently talked about Dr. Oz and eating healthy. And while you can actually find healthier versions of the BBQ staple, maybe you’d like to sneak one or two–just for old time sake.

I was watching the TODAY Show which had a survey — which condiment do people prefer on their dog?. Not surprising to me, it was ketchup. I’ve always been a fan and for a second, it took me back to my youth. Because when I think about it, I’ve got a few cherished memories related to the tubular meat.

I remember my grandmother making me hot dogs, slicing them, putting them on white toast with ketchup and serving them to me in her very old, very large kitchen. It was one of my favorite lunches, not only because the taste was divine, but I do connect it with lots of love. Of course, my grandmother  would brush my hair and make me an occasional Tom Collins (remember those? Today she’d be accused of endangering a child), but the food–especially the hot dogs, came with doses of care-taking and love.

And then there was the very memorable time when my dad took me for a most famous hot dog. Growing up in NYC, Nathan’s was the place for a dog. And my dad was big on outings—outings which usually involved the entire family. But this time, as I remember, it was just us. At least it was us sharing a hot dog experience. A spicy, unhealthy lunch, complete with wavy fries, I still remember taking that first bite. It was different. It was good. And I still think of that special time with my dad, standing at the Nathan’s stand, with the Coney Island roller coaster looming large behind us.

A little older, I fondly remember my days working in NYC. And while I was a turkey sandwich fan by that time, I’d pass by the street vendors and get a whiff of that great hot dog smell. And it would all bring me back again.

According to studies on the olfactory gland (smell sensors), scent and taste is attached to memories. So, it’s no wonder the perfumeries and candle companies try to capture those magical potions that simply make us feel good. Or the chocolate milk shake that takes us back to those years before we dare not touch them.  I guess what these experiences have taught me is that there are simple links that take us back, take us forward.

For me, besides the hot dog,  it has been the scent of powdered sheets and fresh cut grass. But for now, seeing my son follow in my footsteps with hot dogs and ketchup is enough—tying me now to an entirely new generation of pork and tomato lovers.

What scents bring you back? What leads you forward?