Savannah Geary of SciShow explains why some people really enjoy the specific smell of gasoline. Although there is no apparent reason for this particular aromatic enjoyment, it can be associated with memories of the smell.
Gasoline is made mostly of hydrocarbon molecules… One of those molecules is benzene, which gives gas its distinctive smell. But we don’t really know an evolutionary reason to like this random molecule in gasoline. So it might come down to odor hedonics, which is a science-y way of saying “we like what we like.”
While the fondness for the smell of benzene is a mystery. Scientists have definitely confirmed that smell is the most immediate part of a memory.
So we might have caught a whiff of benzene while doing something fun like going on a road trip as kids … Then we linked those smells and emotions in our minds. And it’s easier to link emotions to smells than other senses because the brain cells that let us smell things send information to a specialized smell center in the brain before linking directly to the emotion part of the brain called the amygdala.