Sammy Nickalls
August 24, 2015 6:00 am

It’s August, and we all know what that means: back-to-school time. Even if you’re just out of school — or decades out of it — we all can remember those smells of a brand new year, and they never fail to inspire the most intense feelings of nostalgia. Oh, to be a kid again.

Here are the smells that get us in the childhood feels the absolute most — and make us miss that excitement of a brand new school year. (Or maybe make us wish we still had summer vacations. KIDS HAVE IT SO GOOD.)

Those nubby erasers that you stick on the end of your pencils

For some reason, those brightly colored eraser nubs that you add to the end of your pencils never came in a small package — only in a crazy big package (who needs all those erasers?!), so you probably had tons of them with you. The smell of eraser shavings after that first mistake bring back some serious memories.

…or, even better, scented erasers!

Remember those super amazing scented erasers that you *almost* didn’t want to use because they smelled so good? And sometimes, they were shaped like something adorable, like a watermelon eraser that SMELLED LIKE WATERMELON. Oh, what a world. They always smelled the absolute best on that first day, straight out of the package.

The cafeteria after three months of being away

Maybe this one got you excited — pizza day! — or maybe not so much, but walking into the cafeteria for the first time after several months of summer is something that sticks in our memories like nothing else. No matter what’s cookin’, the smells of multiple different foods wafting throughout that big, loud lunchroom rep that first day of school like nothing else.

New clothes

In the fall, the smell of fresh new clothes is reminiscent of our moms dragging us around the mall trying to find us a pair of sneakers because we totally destroyed our old ones during all our outdoor summer adventures. BRB, sobbing over how much I miss my light-up Little Mermaid kicks.

Newly-sharpened pencils

Remember buying a package of super awesome pencils — maybe covered with glitter (which would then end up all over your pencil case), or maybe covered with your fave TV characters — and sharpening a bunch of them to be extra prepared? The smell of pencil shavings hits us in the feels every single time.

Cleaning products from a freshly scrubbed school

When you first walked into those halls, it smelled like lemon, or pine, with a little bit of bleach. The floors were shining, and everything was so clean after three months of the kids being away. And occasionally, you’d pass by a janitor’s cart with that arsenal of cleaning supplies.

Plastic trapper keepers

Such a sharp smell of plastic — and so shiny and new. Trapper keepers must have been made in heaven. IN HEAVEN. (Bonus points if it was a Lisa Frank.)

A brand new pack of Crayola crayons

Even more than newly sharpened pencils, the fresh smell of waxy goodness when you opened a box full of perfect, colorful crayons was SO SATISFYING. So many things to color! The possibilities are endless! (Maybe this isn’t even such a nostalgic feeling for you, if you’re into the awesome trend of grown-up coloring.)

The inside of a musty textbook

Those textbooks were probably sitting in a dark closet for the past three months, and cracking them open was always a reminder of that fact. Unless they were brand new textbooks, which were a totally different aromatic experience: fresh off the printing press. Either way, the smell of one of these bad boys covered it up:

Chalkboard dust

In elementary school, the smell of chalkboard dust was STRONG, especially if you sat in the front row. But even as whiteboards became more popular in school settings, there were always a few teachers you had that insisted on using their big ol’ chalkboard (and filling it up with every inch of their writing). Or maybe it reminds us of those little chalkboards that teachers gave the class for more *hands-on* lessons.

The inside of your backpack

Maybe you had a new backpack for that first day, and it had that fresh, plastic-y smell; maybe you used the same one for several years, and it was starting to smell a little musty in there from being closed up for the past three months. Or maybe, you left all your old school supplies from last year in it, and it smelled like a combination of graphite, notebook paper, and the faded scent of that watermelon eraser from last year.


Images via Amazon, Shutterstock, Instagram


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