UNC Chapel Hill now has an official smell. A new collegiate perfume boasts that it captures the essence of the school. Thankfully, it doesn't smell like Woollen Gymnasium.
The $60 bottle is among a handful of fragrances targeting universities with big, loyal alumni bases. Each perfume is based largely on the university's color scheme.
What does Carolina blue smell like? Champagne, lemon, jasmine and lavender.
To contrast: the University of Alabama's color is crimson: a scent heavy in reds such as apple and pomegranate, said Katie Masich, a chemical engineer and president of the perfume company, Masik Collegiate Fragrances.
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“It really is about nostalgia,” Masich said. “It's all about bringing it back to that happy time – college.”
Masich's experts even translated UNC's chief icon – The Old Well – into smell, using rose, violet and jasmine. “It's very romantic and it has Southern charm,” she said. The UNC fragrance employs 13 scents, none of which smell like construction dust or the Cave near closing time.
There is no N.C. State or Duke fragrance, but if you're a fan of Penn State, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee or Louisiana State, sniff away.
The UNC perfume can be had from the company's Web site and at a couple of Chapel Hill stores. One is Johnny T-shirt, where manager Heather Frazier said a couple of bottles have sold. “Scent does elicit memories but I never thought of it as a way to promote alumni pride,” she said.
Research has shown that the brain's olfactory pathways are closely linked to the hippocampus, the bit of tissue that records memories. That may be why a smell can dredge up long-submerged experiences.
One can only hope that those experiences smell more like blooming dogwoods than stale beer.