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The Smell of Toast = Happiness

Posted: September 14, 2010

In the United Kingdom, 42% of students are happily reminded of home when they smell toast, and 99% of UK consumers "love toast," according to a recent study conducted by the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University on behalf of the Flour Advisory Bureau. This involuntary memory reaction, triggered by an olfactive input, is known as the "Proust Effect," so named for Marcel Proust, the French novelist most famous for his "Remembrances of Things Past," which begins with a simple sense memory spurred by a bite of petite madeleine.

"Most families eat toast for breakfast and the distinctive smell of toast delivers a feel-good factor by evoking comforting childhood memories," said professor Tim Jacob of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University. "It is entirely conceivable that students can sniff their way back to happy childhoods with the aroma of toast, delivering a warm, feel-good factor across countless breakfast tables and student hall of residences throughout the nation. It is clear that toast reminds us of family. Breakfast, the meal where most toast is consumed, is a family meal and this association stays with us. Toast is used as a treat and to cheer us up, so when we leave home toast recalls family breakfasts and is therefore comforting. Psychologically, a process of conditioned association occurs to link toast and the smell and flavor of toast with key moments in our lives: family moments."

According to the Bureau, top UK toast toppings are: