What Does Miami Smell Like?

Close your eyes and take a big whiff of Miami.
Close your eyes and take a big whiff of Miami. Photo by Mint Images/Getty Images
Miami is known for many things: South Beach, beautiful people, and being the cocaine capital of the world in the '80s. When it comes to Miamians themselves, they stick out like a sore thumb in the wild.

There's just something about the 305 that you can practically smell on a local.

With that in mind, a company called 305 Candles is re-creating the smell of Miami, one scent at a time. So far, it's waxed up the distinct smell of fresh cafecito and a fruity "Deco Dream."

This got us thinking: What does Miami really smell like? Not the smells you'd find in an airport gift shop next to $8.99 Doritos, but the actual smells you'll find in the parts of Miami most tourists skip?

Here are some signature scents that come to mind.

The faint smell of possibly maybe marijuana.

The smell of marijuana is easily distinguishable. Until that is, it's passed through some bushes, crossed a body of water, and traveled a good mile to you sitting in your car at a stoplight. Then you can't be sure if it's the smell of freshly burnt cannabis you smell or the past-ripe aroma from a distant mango tree.

There are already marijuana candles on the market. What Miami needs is a candle that makes you question whether it's marijuana-scented or guava IPA.

A takeout box of full of pastelitos, empanadas, and croquetas.

Tell me you're from Miami without telling me you're from Miami. Oh, a pastelito? Got it. Vibe check passed.

A beautiful aspect of Miami is no matter how rich or poor you are, the same foldable takeout box full of crispy goodness hits the same way in the morning. Whether you grew up eating pastelitos de guayaba or came to love them after moving to Miami, few can deny the smell of a delicious Latin pastry.

If you're asking us what kind of Miami candles we'd be down for, a Versailles scent would hit the spot.

The smoke billowing out of La Caja China.

We could just say Miami needs a candle that smells like barbecue, but that would be disingenuous. Miami needs a candle that smells explicitly like a Caja China that has been pumping out meals since the mid-'90s and still works like the day it was assembled.

The smell of a whole pig roasting in a box is not a smell you soon forget. It sticks with you. No, really — It literally sticks with you. Your shirt smells like it hours later.

An added tinge of the scent of the beers your uncle is drinking while working this thing would rise to the level of perfection.

Flanigan's, duh.

Everyone sees South Beach on television, but the real Miami nightlife takes place inside a Flanigan's. In fact, the candle should come inside of a green cup for the full effect. They'd sell out instantly.

If you're making a candle that smells like nightlife in Miami, you can keep that $35 martini and mojito smell. If we move to Nebraska and want to be reminded of nights out drinking in Miami, give us the aroma of a plate of Flanigan's ribs and cheap pitcher beer.

Miami traffic.

Do you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of what Miamians smell the most on a daily basis? How about the aroma of hot asphalt on the Dolphin and Palmetto expressways in bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic? That's what Miamians smell more often than coffee.

Whatever a mix of exhaust smoke, cigarettes, cigars, gasoline, and dampness smells like, put that in a candle and ship it, because that's definitely a Miami smell.
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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi