Professor Tim Jacob, at the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University, has found that the smell of toast is Britain’s most loved food smell. A recent survey by the Flour Advisory Bureau found that we are a nation of toast lovers with a whopping 99% of us putting our hands up to loving toast.

Apparently, toast triggers memories and evokes feelings of happiness in what is called the ‘Proust Effect’ – where a smell is firmly linked with pleasant memories, in this case those of family life.

At a time of year when 2 million students are heading to university, with tight budgets and, for many, limited cooking experience, toast is likely to feature heavily in their diets.

Professor Jacob explains, “Most families eat toast for breakfast and the distinctive smell of toast delivers a feel-good factor by evoking comforting childhood memories. 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.”

He concludes, “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 flavour of toast with key moments in our lives – family moments.”

stevenbrisson toast creative commons
image by Steven Brisson (creative commons license, some rights reserved)

The top ten toppings for toast are butter (or margarine *shudder*), cheese, egg, jam, marmalade, baked beans, Marmite, bacon, peanut butter and honey.

So, I have two questions for you:

What are your favourite toast toppings?

What is your favourite food smell – the one that triggers feelings of happiness and comfort in you?

Students looking for some inspiration might like to visit Beyond Baked Beans, a site bursting with easy recipes, budget tips and simple cooking techniques for those cooking on a budget.

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