Considering that long-term scent memory is nearly unassailable, when you’re blasted to atoms, conceivably some of those minuscule particles will carry olfactory experiences, soul memory traveling the world on superheated winds. The scent radiating from the La Cienega flagship shop of the 86-year-old See’s Candies comes from the factory behind it, a deep caramel veil that handily overpowers the nearby salted-grease death odors of McDonald’s and the gasoline stench from the service stations that flank the headquarters, not to mention the unmistakable smell of hot classic rock from KLOS, just up the street.
The factory, also known as “The Kitchen,” was the setting for the I Love Lucy episode “Job Switching,” during which Lucy and Ethel tried to keep up with the demands of candy wrapping at a conveyor belt and, of course, failed miserably.
“Quality Without Compromise” is the company motto — yea, verily: Russell Stover and Whitman’s can suck it — and free samples make selecting a pound of any given confection singularly tough. Walking along the 3000 block of La Cienega Avenue offers up different smells depending on what’s cooking: peanut brittle and nougat, chocolate and caramel, marzipan and marshmallows, a cornucopia of fruit flavors. One always wonders what one might do when the world ends — but what’s that end going to smell like? Such a small thing, almost beyond notice, but nevertheless . . . Perhaps the countless commuters who pass this stretch of road will be there at the end, with their memories flashing before their eyes as the world bangs or whimpers, and it’s not unreasonable to imagine that some of those thoughts will turn to how good that street smelled.
3431 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-4911 or www.sees.com.