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Scents of the Season with Glade and Tracy Pepe

‘Tis the day before Christmas Eve and all through the house (for those of us lucky enough to have hydro where I am anyway) the scents of baking and the holidays in general should be filling our homes. I know I love the smells of the season, and honestly the smell of sage immediately takes me to my parents kitchen and me breaking up the bread for the stuffing in the yellow bowl.  I got to interview Tracy Pepe from Glade on this very topic and am happy to share it with you all. Enjoy!

1. ‘Scents of the Season’ is definitely a phrase we hear at this time of year. What are the top scents that are associated with this time of year?

There are many aromas that are connected with the holiday season. For example, vanilla is a “scent of the season” classic, as it’s often associated with feelings of holiday cooking and comfort, and we know that certain spices such as cinnamon create a feeling of warmth, apple or mulled wine and their aromas are decadent, making you feel cozy.   The Glade® Wax Melts Winter Collection was inspired by the nostalgic, spontaneous and snowy scents and moments that build up to the winter holiday season and they created a series of scents that are perfect for the winter months.  The Sparkling Spruce, for example, reminds us of a fresh cut Christmas tree, inviting the scent of the holiday season in to your home and giving a welcoming feeling, reminding us of trimming the tree – an experience only found during the holidays.

2. Have the scents changed over the years as we’ve evolved. For example, a lot of new homes are not built with actual wood-burning fireplaces so a lot of kids are growing up not knowing that wonderful scent (still one of my faves though).

Many scents that we experience are connected to memories.  When we smell a particular aroma, it can take us back to a certain place or moment in time, so yes, the smell of a wood-burning stove is not something many would understand unless they previously experienced that particular aroma.  Scents can create feelings within us that are not only connected to memory, but to certain emotions.  In fact, Glade® just released an interesting survey that revealed 24% of Canadians who smell the scent of berries feel happy and 77% say that their sense of smell is important to help them enjoy the everyday pleasures of life.

3. Do the scents of the season vary according to where we are in the world? Are there some that are universal?

Yes, where we live does have a direct impact on our associations to scent.  Balsam Fir or Spruce trees would not register in Mexico for example, but other scents are more universal, like coffee.  However, we do know that the feeling of comfort is universal and strongly associated with the scent of spruce. , In fact, 20% of Canadians surveyed agreed that the scent of spruce or forests are associated with comfort, making Glade® Wax Melts Winter Collection Sparkling Spruce™ an excellent choice for that welcoming feeling at home.

4. I know there are some scents that instantly make my mouth water and some that of course, have a not so pleasant affect. How does this association work and can some be changed over time? (Example a negative feeling towards the smell of brussels sprouts  as a kid and a possible change in adulthood)

Our feelings associated with a scent are  usually ingrained deep within our brain. That being said, negative and positive emotions can be triggered by aroma, so these memories are not easily erased.  However, since we smell on average 10,000 different aromas each day, our negative associations are often very low.  I would estimate that we each have around 10 scents that may not be pleasant, compared to the 1,000 pleasant scents that we experience.

5. How can scents and fragrances be used to enhance our holiday entertaining and family time? Can they be mixed and if so, which blends work best and which not so much?

In addition to deciding how you’re going to set your table or decorate your home, or what menu you will serve for your family dinner, scents can play an important role when it comes to our holiday entertaining and family time.  According to the survey produced by Glade®, nearly 9 in 10 Canadians say that scent is among the most important ways to enhance their December holiday experiences, and almost 80% said they feel happy when they enter a scented room.  Deciding what type of mood you want to set in your home will determine the scent you chose to fill your home with. For example, the Glade® Wax Melts Winter Collection Frosted Berry Kiss™ and Pure Vanilla Joy™ are perfect for Canadians looking to make their home feel happy, warm, and comforting – perfect for holiday entertaining.

6. You’ve been in the industry for a while, how did you become interested in the subject?  

When I was a child my mother used to play the “scent game” with me.  I recall smelling herbs and different kitchen ingredients, and having to guess what these smells were.  I like all kinds of scents – , everything from skunk to garlic to spruce.  I later developed my training, and met a master perfumer who changed my life.

7. I remember visiting a parfumerie (sp) in France in my 20’s (so, last week right? ;)), and they told us all about the ‘noses’ they had on staff there and how many scents they could identify versus an average person. I remember the numbers being rather impressive and likened it to a sommelier. Can you tell us more about the unique job that you have? Obviously there’s the partnership with companies like Glade (and I am a big fan and use their products a lot admittedly), but what other industries do you find that scent identification and enhancement comes in handy?

As a “nose” or scent designer I only scent spaces.  My job is to help interior designers, architects and various brands add scent within an environment, similar to adding light or sound to a space.  Scents can make us feel better; enhance the room to add a dimension to a space.  Working with Glade® to launch their new Wax Melts Winter Collection is a perfect fit because these particular scents were designed to invigorate your senses and add ambiance to your home this holiday season.  When I design a scented space for a hotel lobby, my work is custom and one of kind for the brand, it can be time consuming and expensive – but Glade® has made scenting spaces very inexpensive and simple so that anyone can do it.  I love my work, I get to create scent brands for firms as another way to identify with a company, I love that “we” as a society are finally following our nose.

8. What is YOUR favorite scent of the holidays? And what about in general?

I love Christmas trees, all kinds, and I purchase a real one every year with my family.  When my kids were little we use to go to the Christmas tree farms to cut one down, and I can remember my 3 year old Olivia running through the trees. Because of that, Spruce is my favorite scent and I love the feelings and memories that are associated with the scent of a real Christmas tree.  When I smell spruce I think of kids, bundled up and so excited about this tree tradition.

9. I have a ‘scent story’ myself of a particular lip balm that I wore one summer in particular when we spent a lot of time on the water. To this day when I smell that scent I immediately am taken back to that time. Do you have a favorite ‘scent memory’ story to share?

I have many scent memories because I live it day in and day out. I actually identify my food, spaces and people by their smells, so everyday is an experience.  However I do have one scent memory that is very real to me.  I was 5 years old, living in Peggy’s Cove, near Halifax Nova Scotia and the smell of the Atlantic Ocean is one that triggers real emotion for me.  I can close my eyes, smell the Atlantic Ocean, and hear the waves against the rocks. I can feel the water on my face and I can recall my father holding my hand telling me the ocean will eat me up if I got to close to the edge.  To this day that smell is a warning to me, and I can see my dad all over again.


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