OPINION: Your fall favorites are determined by memories

Jaiden Endress, Opinion Writer

Fall is a time of change and pumpkin spice lattes. The seasonal drink is an autumn favorite, and that’s not surprising. With 62% of Americans drinking coffee every day, it sees much more consumption based on its status as coffee. However, we often overlook other staple flavors of fall. So what qualifies as a ‘fall’ flavor anyway? Is it just dependent on when something comes into season? Or if something was created specifically for fall or Halloween? Why do we have such strong affiliations with the season itself?

One reason may be due to the relationship between smell, memory and emotion. The general idea of most studies involving this relationship is that we often associate different scents with different things, such as pumpkin spice with fall and sunscreen with summer beach trips. Psychology Today says that it may be due to the fact the system involving our sense of smell hasn’t changed throughout the course of our evolution in the same way as our other senses. This means the area storing memories and the area where the sense of smell is located are still relatively linked. So when someone walks past their local coffee shop and is hit with a wave of fall memories from past years, they might be smelling pumpkin spice.

Despite its popularity, pumpkin spice is not the only scent or flavor reminiscent of fall. Many people actually disagree with pumpkin spice’s adoration, instead, they’ll often mention cinnamon, chai, candy corn and even mocha. Throughout these mentions, most times someone’s favorite fall scent or flavor has connections with fond childhood memories or activities. 

“My favorite fall flavor is apples, specifically apple cider because I used to make it with my family,” said freshman Sara Wolts. 

Apples themselves are often almost as popular as pumpkin spice. Many types of apples are harvested in the fall, and they’ve been used for everything from apple cider to apple pie. This being said, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that it’s a favorite. Especially taking into account the popularity of apple picking as a family activity. According to an informational piece from Lake MetroParks, it became a favorite in the 1970s due to inflation causing an overall wish to return to nature.

“I love candy corn, my mom and I used to dump out the whole bag of candy corn and count each candy,” said freshman Carolina Nicholas. 

Candy corn is both loved and hated, but a surefire symbol of fall and Halloween. An excerpt by History says the treat itself emerged among many other agriculturally-themed candies aimed at children, as at the time over half of the American labor force were farmers. Candy corn was made to look like chicken feed, and was originally referred to as such, mainly due to the fact corn was fed mostly to animals in pre-World War I America. With the popularization of Halloween, as well as corn, it was quickly marketed as a holiday treat, even though it is available year-round. The treat even has its own day of celebration, which falls on October 30. 

These stories support the idea that favorite seasonal memories are connected with favorite seasonal scents and flavors, especially when considering that the most popular flavors are often most prominent in childhood and family activities. Even the so-called ‘basic’ option of pumpkin and pumpkin spice can be attributed to activities such as pumpkin carving, or baking pumpkin pie for a family holiday. This may be why fall is such a popular season, for children and adults alike. While it may be true that some people just enjoy flavors or scents for other reasons, there’s no doubt that memory and experience play a key role in the establishment of these opinions, and that can be quite a heartwarming thought.