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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, May 19

Gapers Block

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Jeigh / September 13, 2005 12:03 PM

Well, I'm sure many others will say the same thing... I like the smell of cocoa by the Blommer chocolate factory. It certainly smells better than the tannery on Ashland.

anne / September 13, 2005 12:29 PM

I like smelling the horses in town, either the carriage rides on Michigan, or in the corrals by the Noble Horse Theater in Old Town. It's a totally non-urban smell in the middle of the city. Plus, it reminds me of home, and horse country.

cookie monster / September 13, 2005 12:35 PM

Nabisco cookie factory on Kedzie just past Marquette Park. That's good enough for me.

Mark / September 13, 2005 12:40 PM

The smell of the lake Michigan....anywhere close to the lake shore where you can catch that fresh breeze.

mendel / September 13, 2005 12:42 PM

The smell of burning coal in Pullman.

Stephen / September 13, 2005 12:44 PM

The coffee smell I occasionally notice in my neighborhood (Huron & Paulina), which I'm going to attribute to the Intelligentsia Roasting Works.

pete / September 13, 2005 12:49 PM

i don't know if its my favorite, but that smell from the sewer is pretty distinctive to chicago. not that other cities don't have it, but i always know i'm home when i catch a whiff of that chicago doo doo smell.

Sarah / September 13, 2005 12:53 PM

Chocolate cloud! I went past the chocolate outlet store the other day on the way to Wicker Park or the Congress Theater but I nearly didn't realize it and by the time that I whipped out my camera phone we were speeding away. I love the chocolate cloud.

Ira / September 13, 2005 1:04 PM

Goose Island Brewery on Fulton. Hoppy!

e_five / September 13, 2005 1:25 PM

Especially in winter, I enjoy the smell of earth and green, growing plants in the Garfield Park Conservatory.

jgs / September 13, 2005 1:28 PM

I like to call elston smellston because it has a variety of smells as you travel down it. Starting from ogden and chicago, where the gonella bread factory emits such wonderous fresh baked yeasty smells to the coffee roasting at/around armitage and the freeway.

friends who've never been to chicago have also asked me "is it true that the bridges smell like chocolate?"
Indeed, I say, when the wind is from the north/northwest, blowing the blommar odors down the river, so that as far away as the michigan ave bridge, one can smell it.
makes you think you live in some candy wonderland to have chocolate in your nose every tuesday thursday, friday and I think sunday. can anyone back me up on blommer's schedule?

daniel / September 13, 2005 1:29 PM

During the spring and summer, the trees and fresh woodchips on the sidewalks of the Ukranian Village emit a lovely odor. I especially like this when they have layed down fresh fertilizer.

j / September 13, 2005 1:35 PM

Sometime in late March or early April after what feels like 11 months in the dark of winter, when folks first stretch their creaky limbs and look to the rising sun comes the smell of freshly cut grass suspended in a crisp spring air. Certainly this smell exists in other places yet for Chicagoans this little reward anounces the beginning of the summer; a time when this great city shows it's spirit.

Andrew / September 13, 2005 1:38 PM

The distinct smell of banana Laffy Taffy lingered around the southeast corner of State and Hubbard for years, but the last time I was down there it seemed to be gone.

Anybody remember that smell? Nothing nearby that could explain it -- unless there was a car inside the parking garage on the corner that had a super-strong banana car freshener.

paul / September 13, 2005 1:38 PM

In the morning those bastards from the subway on state and IL are baking up the most wonderful (I wanna stop in even though I just had breakfast) smelling bread.

I love those bastards.

lildebbie / September 13, 2005 2:16 PM

The smell of all the Middle Eastern restaurants in Andersenville.

Steve / September 13, 2005 2:16 PM

The smell of any and every beer they serve on tap at Resi's bierstube.

Or meat grilling up on charcoal in the summertime from my or a neighbor's yard. (Apologies to Morrissey, Leelah, and the many other vegetarians I know and love.)

kerry / September 13, 2005 2:17 PM

I second the vote for the Nabsico factory. When I discovered it I actually turned my car back around to go by and catch another whiff. Mmmm . . . cookies!
I have always loved the smell of those misty spring mornings, where you look in the back yard (or your neighbor's back yard if you don't have one) and it looks like a jungle, all blue and green. The air smells like fog and dirt and plants. So great.

king / September 13, 2005 2:27 PM

Burger King when they are cooking burgers

king / September 13, 2005 2:29 PM

And dan ryan expressway at roosevelt road. MMMM the smell of grilled onion and polish sausage is everywhere

Wendy / September 13, 2005 2:57 PM

I haven't smelled it in years, but I think if you're downwind of the Ferrara Pan candy factory in Forest Park you can still smell Red Hots being born.

strawberry / September 13, 2005 2:58 PM

Thw White Castle's on Milwaukee has that distinctive hamburger scent. Yum!

Craig / September 13, 2005 3:04 PM

Fish, chicken, and beef juice that is rotting all over the road as I ride my bike through the Fulton Market district.

That's not my #1 choice, but everyone else took my top 20.

Cinnamon / September 13, 2005 3:05 PM

The smell of a tomato plant just seems like the smell of summer and youth to me.

The smell of toasting cumin and coriander and baking naan just 1/2 block north of where I live.

And the smell of urine mixed with sausage always reminds me of the EL.

kerry / September 13, 2005 3:13 PM

Ooh ooh! Cinnamon's totally right about the tomato plant thing. I like to take an unused bit of vine off the tomatoes at the grocery store and sniff it while I walk around the produce department. My mother and grandmother both grew tomatoes so it just smells like security to me.

king / September 13, 2005 3:15 PM

I second the smell of urine and sausage. It reminds me alot of Wrigley field

kelly / September 13, 2005 3:19 PM

yes! i third the nabisco cookie smells. growing up on the southwest side, i remember many a morning walking out the door on my way to school and my nose filling with that excellent cookie scent. what a great way to start the day. I've always been a little envious of my uncle who works there!

anna / September 13, 2005 3:44 PM

The smell of the lake. It just says leisure and summer. I was riding my bike home from work yesterday and had to stop around Oak Street Beach to get a good smell, because now it's got that sort of late-summer, not-long-for-this-world smell about it (despite the extreme summerlike conditions).

Also the smell of the river, which is really extremely gross-smelling, but which nevertheless seems to inject a sense of nature into the city. When I cross over a bridge I take a deep breath, despite the toxicity.

Leah / September 13, 2005 3:57 PM

I love the smell of fresh-mowed grass--which is sometimes a park and sometimes a small tree-row.

I also love riding my bike down Devon through all the different areas.

eep / September 13, 2005 4:24 PM

A guy I know once mentioned to me how the hawthorne trees "smell like cum. You know, jizz?" And ever since then, that is the smell of Chicago to me.

Thanks, dude.

Baltimore / September 13, 2005 5:20 PM

The smell of the underground pedway connecting the Washington Red Line el stop with the Washington Blue line stop

Kevin / September 13, 2005 6:13 PM

This is only sort of city related because he's a city pupper. I love the smell of my dog after we have given him a bath. Which led to one of his many nicknames: Apple Blossom.

We also call him Turkey-head form when he stuck his head in the trash on Thanksgiving.

Kevin / September 13, 2005 6:14 PM

This is only sort of city related because he's a city pupper. I love the smell of my dog after we have given him a bath. Which led to one of his many nicknames: Apple Blossom.

We also call him Turkey-head from when he stuck his head in the trash on Thanksgiving.

Attrill / September 13, 2005 6:15 PM

The smell of good grilling - a new BBQ place just opened up a block from me and every now and then I catch a whiff of hickory and beef - mmmmmmm. My least favorite is the smell of asphalt when someone is tarring a roof or laying asphalt, on a really hot day it's the worst.

Annie / September 13, 2005 6:47 PM

Chinatown! The smell of cooking grease & egg rolls, and the fortune cookie factory on Canal. Mmm Mmm!

Moon / September 13, 2005 7:13 PM

Ewwww, Anne. Those horses don't have a "good" horse smell. That's the smell of horses that aren't very well taken care of and have to live in their own poop.

Go to a race track if you want to smell how horses should smell.

holden / September 14, 2005 7:46 AM

Being that I worked at the YMCA right across the street, I'll say Dinkel's bakery in Lakeview. The sweet grease smell of doughnuts being fried in the morning and then the warm velvety rich chocolate smell of chocolate chip cookies and brownies in the ovens in the afternoons. It was quite a situation to come out from a great workout only to be assaulted by those magnetic odors.

CVAL / September 14, 2005 8:30 AM

Walking through the Ravenswood neighborhood along Leland between Pulina and Hermatage someone grows Lilacs. As I walk down the street, after my ride on the Metra the neighborhood just smells like home; Lilacs and family dinner, and welcome.

Shermann / September 14, 2005 9:04 AM

at Irving Park and Western it always smelled like Vanilla.
Recently they tore down the flavor factory and built 'spensive condos. So now it smells like new money.

Robert / September 14, 2005 9:12 AM

I LOVE the smell of Wrigley Field. The combination of fresh cut grass, hot dogs, stale beer and a hint of pee is the best.

Alec / September 14, 2005 9:50 AM

On 51st Street there's an Ossama's hair salon (I know there's a branch downtown too) that I love to walk by for the smell --- I don't know exactly what hair product(s) I'm smelling, but salons always smell that way to me through their front doors.

But my favorite smell in town is dryer vents. I love walking by an alley and getting a surprise waft of superclean, warm clothes smell.

jen / September 14, 2005 10:28 AM

i always loved walking past the thousand waves spa on belmont... the sweet moist smell of the spa - almost like clean laundry but not quite.

Craig / September 14, 2005 10:43 AM

Oh, and I also really like the smell coming up from the subway grates on Milwaukee Ave. or Clybourn. It's always a cool, slighly dank scent, but never disgusting... it's the urban cave smell.

Kevin S / September 14, 2005 10:58 AM

The curled, snarling, wisp of smoke from a freshly lit Camel non-filtered cigarette. Smells damn good in any city.

NotSoHealthy / September 14, 2005 11:05 AM

The smell of dust in my favorite record shops

Hobbs / September 14, 2005 11:32 AM

The Chicago River on a muggy weekend morning.

Veronica / September 14, 2005 12:31 PM

The smell of the impending fall - the leaves as they change color and fall to the ground and then you get to scrunch them with your feet. I've been waiting for that smell for too long this year.

paul / September 14, 2005 1:32 PM

The smell inside the Spice House, overwhelmingly pepper, but mingled with the smells of a thousand lands...

Or the smell of roasting nuts wafting outside Ricci & Company on Superior.

The smell of meat roasting from the many Steakhouses - Gene & Georgetti seems the strongest to me. Now we have a half dozen Gaucho-meat places whose meat-char and smoke fills the streets and sets me drooling.

Andrew, during my time in the absestos removal industry, we used banana oil (produced for that purpose) to test air leaks in ducts and for respirator fit tests. They said it's one of the most easily detectable smell to humans even at very low PPM, but I can't find anything to back that up.

Betty / September 14, 2005 1:56 PM

Mmmmmm... Harold's Chicken Shack smell.

Erica / September 14, 2005 2:16 PM

eep, you intregued me enough to find that, "In Arabic erotic literature, hawthorn is regarded as an aphrodisiac because the flowers presumedly smell like aroused women. This is also why the hawthorn was sacred to Hymen or Hymenaeus, the Greek God of the marriage chamber." from

Here's what smells I love:
Joy Noodles on Broadway and Melrose
Merz Apothecary on Lincoln
Frango Mint area downstairs and Marshall Fields
My herb garden

Brian / September 14, 2005 2:23 PM

Grant Park during Bluesfest.

nico / September 14, 2005 2:31 PM

waffle cones at ben & jerry's lincoln park

winediva / September 14, 2005 5:01 PM

That carmelcorn joint on Michigan Ave. Do they have fans in there or something that blow the smell into the street. I hate sticky sweet crap like that, but everytime I walk by there I want to buy some.

stacy / September 14, 2005 5:11 PM

the smell of books and cigarette EVERYWHERE in hyde park

tony / September 14, 2005 5:36 PM

Shermann! I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who remembers the food flavor factory. (It was at California, though, not Western.) I loved the butterscotch smell. Very distinctive. I was disappointed when I saw the condos there. The march of progress, I suppose.

Jenni / September 14, 2005 11:54 PM

#1: that tasty chocolate smell, sometimes experienced just west of downtown, usually in the afternoon. it always surprises me.
#2: Merz Apothecary in Lincoln Square, especially in winter.
#3: Lake Michigan on our last beach day of the summer (today).

sscott / September 15, 2005 12:08 AM

Paulina Meat Market on Lincoln Ave.
Sometimes I go in there with no intention of buying anything, but just to drink in the smell (but of course it's hard to walk away empty-handed after being hypnotized by the smell.)
I'm convinced that this place will convert any vegetarian back to eating meat!

Chris / September 15, 2005 12:35 AM

The overwhelming smell of hot dogs, polish sausage, and the deliciously overcooked onion, as soon as you enter the concourse of U.S. Cellular Field (still "new Comiskey" to me and "Sox Park" to the CTA). You can dis the park (by calling it the "ballmall" for one), the team, the neighborhood, whatever... but that smell rocks. So, whether the Sox win or not, on every visit to the park that smell always satisfies. I've been to a lot of games at Wrigley, as well as visits to about a half-dozen of other big league stadiums, but I can't say I remember such a strong, wonderful odor at any other.

Hmmn... could it be a stealthy assist by the Churro stands? I dunno. Go Sox!

printdude / September 15, 2005 7:11 AM

The Tootsie Roll smell from the Factory on South Cicero. Especially at late night when the air holds nothing but the smell of chocolate centers....
A close second would be the smell of Jim's original, as I drive by on the Ryan, it wafts over four lanes of traffic, through clouds of exhaust, into my nostrils and always tempts me to stop and grab a polish.

steven / September 15, 2005 11:09 AM

Somewhere along the Dan Ryan, under one of the bridges (train? pedestrian?), it used to smell like bubble gum. I loved how it would appear out of nowhere, then vanish as we sped by.

Angie / September 15, 2005 10:40 PM

BBQs being fired up on summer nights. So homey and reminiscent of countless nights in the city with my neighbors.

Kukt / October 24, 2005 5:57 PM

City Scents on Ohio street is the worst flower shop!

Kukt / December 29, 2005 4:38 PM

City Scents Flowers on Ohio street is a great enviornment and is fun to go to and is fun to look at all the neat vases!

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