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The aroma of baked goods makes us good

By Senator Manny Villar

We know that certain smells trigger different emotions. For instance, the smell of some items can flood us with memories and emotions. You might smell the strong aroma of tuyo (dried fish) in the morning and remember the time when your whole family gather together for breakfast over tuyo, sinangag (fried rice) and coffee.

Or you might smell a particular perfume prompting a memory of your wife who is abroad working. You might smell the aroma of pandesal and reminisce about the pugon bakery near your house where you and you childhood friends use to play.

The smell of baked goods is particularly pleasant that it makes you calm and happy. I remember when our family would have trips to Europe and we would pass by small patisseries and smell the wonderful aroma of buttery croissants and tarts. Even back then, I dreamed of opening our own bake shop back in the Philippines.

But apparently, the smell of baked goods does not only make you feel good but also prompt you to do good. A study reported by the Daily Mail showed how that people who are in front of a bakery, smelling the aroma of baked breads are more likely to help a stranger in need.

The experiment, conducted by experts from the University of Southern Brittany in France, recruited eight people and had one group stand outside a bakery and the other at a clothes boutique. The volunteers pretended to be looking for something in their bags as they stepped in front of a passing shopper. As they walked a few feet in front of the shopper, the participants dropped a glove, handkerchief or packet of tissues.

They repeated this social experiment 400 times and found that people passing by the bake shop is more likely to help a stranger recover the lost items and hand them back to their owner. They noted that shoppers were more likely to alert a passer-by that they had dropped a belonging if, at the time, they were also passing near a bakery giving off the mouth-watering aroma.

The findings, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, suggest “certain smells trigger a positive mood that leads to a greater degree of altruism, or unconditional concern for the welfare of others”. Baked goods—even just the smell of it—makes people good.

I can totally relate to the conclusions made by the study. Who would pass by a bakery in the morning, smell freshly baked breads and harbor evil thoughts? I think if we have bakeries on every corner we would have less crime in the country. Maybe we should have a bakery right inside our city jails.

But fighting crime was not the reason why we put up our own bake shop, Bake My Day. We wanted to provide people with high quality, fresh baked goods that are baked in-store daily. So in January 2017 we opened our first Bake My Day.

And when I walked in for the first time to our first bake shop, I felt proud and very happy not just because we finally realized a dream but also because the smell was so mouth-watering I wanted to eat them all! The buttery smell of croissant, the savory aroma of pork floss bread, bacon and egg, sausage roll, and, the whiff of strawberries and cream Danish, blueberry danish, and almond and chocolate croissant made me want to live in the bake shop.

So whenever you feel blue or annoyed, you don’t need a psychiatrist, you don’t have to place a call to your favorite DJ for advice, just pass by a bakery.