Nostalgia is a powerful emotion.
It is the reason so many movies from our childhood are being re-made. It is the reason Jimmy Fallon is popular. And it is the reason that this summer’s biggest hit was the Netflix series, Stranger Things.
Being reminded of my favorite movies and television shows always takes me back to my childhood, but nothing really twitches the nostalgia nerve better than smell.
Smell is the number one trigger of memory. The olfactory system, which is how we smell, is closely related to the system in the brain that is associated with memory and emotion.
I love picking up a fragrance that sets off the memory files in my brain. Play-Doh. Crayons. Hair spray. Hell, I even bought a couple bars of Coast soap a few weeks ago because I knew the smell would take me back to my childhood. Sure enough, the kids used it and the smell wafted into the hallway and walking up the stairs into the aroma was like stepping through a time portal.
For a split second I was in another time and place.
But the best smell I have found so far, the one that triggers the most vivid memories, is Vernors Ginger Ale.
Vernors is the best ginger ale in the world, and is pretty hard to find outside of Michigan. The strong flavor and extra carbonation gives it a very unique smell. A smell when combined with the rich, creamy taste really rocks the senses and gives your entire body a euphoric feeling.
I was born in Michigan and lived there when I was a young kid. The memories I associate with Vernors are memories of my grandmother’s house filled with family members sitting around the table talking and playing cards while the kids played Husker Du, Tiddly Winks, or any number of other games that also bring back great memories.
Here is the optimal way to drink Vernors:
As soon as you open the can (or bottle, but I say stick with the can) hold the opening under your nose. Don’t inhale, because the carbonation will kick you in the face. Just let the bubbles tickle the nostrils and the smell waft into your nose.
After the initial bubbles die down pour the ginger ale into a glass. This will create more bubbling and you can now hold the glass under your nose and let the smell overtake you again.
Each time I smell the ginger ale I close my eyes and meditate on the memories.
Now it is finally time to drink. Take a small sip and let it roll over your tongue. Enjoy the creaminess that you will not find in any other pop. Savor the flavor as you patiently sip your first sips.
Put the glass down and appreciate the flavor that you are experiencing right now.
NEVER gulp down Vernors. Sip it. Savor it. Enjoy it. Let it dance in your mouth.
I now live in a suburb outside Philadelphia. Vernors is available in a few stores in this area, but I do not buy it on a regular basis. I will, however, buy Vernors once or twice a year and enjoy it the same way every time.
The main reason I don’t buy Vernors on a regular basis is to preserve the nostalgia.
If I bought it every week and drank it all the time the taste and smell would no longer be connected to my childhood memories in Michigan. It would just be any other smell I sense every day. When a smell is as strongly nostalgic as this one, exposure to the smell must be limited so nothing new or modern is connected with it.
I know that might sound a little crazy. I don’t care.
Now I am going to run to the store and get a can of Vernors.