When I was growing up in Clifton, NJ, humid days were an occasion to smell one or both of our town's whiffy manufacturing concerns: Hoffman-LaRoche, with their funky B-vitamin scent, or the overpowering Wind Song odor of the Givaudan-Roure site. Recent air-pollution legislation has forced these companies to be a lot more stringent about how they perfume the New Jersey skies, but opening a bottle of multivitamins will forever spark childhood memories for me.


Baytown, Texas is home to a larger per capita chemical processing plant ratio than any other place on earth. Possible hyperbole, but I don't think so.
A quick rundown:

  • Exxon - second largest in the world
  • Dow
  • Huber - carbon black plant smells distinctly of sulpher
  • Chevron
  • Texaco
  • Miles - Don't even know, but they used to be a Bayer plant...
  • others, my brain is too screwed up to remember them.
The reek of the chemical processes in Baytown make it smell literally like shit all of the time.

It is the worst feeling in the world to drive back home and smell shit and know you are almost to Grandma's house.

My hometown smells like government.

Bureaucracy fills the streets of downtown Ottawa like a damp cloud, tumbling from the massive many-windowed buildings, the great grey machines that line the streets. It smells like Xerox, it smells like fresh photocopies (a little bit cucumbery), but if you're in the right place at the right time, it smells like warm food and fire. This is the part of Ottawa I like.

Peoria, Illinois has absolutely no smell at all.

However, Clinton, Iowa my former hometown is the worst smelling place in the world. Take a Purina hog rendering plant (they make dog food), add an ADM corn processing plant and top it off with some unknown places that pump straight gray smoke into the sky 24/7, and you've got smell.

After Field of Dreams came out, some witty Clintonite started selling t-shirts with a map of Iowa on them. The map had a star over Clinton's location, and "The Armpit of Heaven" underneath.

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