Unpopular Opinion: Pumpkin Spice Is Overrated

I hate everything that smells or tastes like pumpkin spice well, except pumpkin pie, the original queen of fall flavors.

I typically try not to rock the boat when it comes to social situations, especially when I was younger. In fact, I’ve endured around eight years of ice-cream cake at my best friend’s yearly birthday sleepovers without her suspecting my distaste for her favorite kind of cake. You see, I would strategically pawn off my oreo crust and request a small slice with no colored frosting because if I have to eat sugary icing, it wasn’t going to turn my lips blue! She only found out about this cake torture this year by the way, so it was a well-kept secret. However, I have never been quiet about my disdain for this popular scent, pumpkin spice, no matter how many confused looks and gasps I get when I tell people I’m not on the pumpkin spice bandwagon.

As the daughter of an avid consumer of The Christmas Tree Shop fall and winter merchandise, I spent many chilly afternoons holding my breath as my mother perused the stuffed aisles inhaling every candle to find the one that would give her the most joy and me the worst headache. I would whine about feeling dizzy in the cramped, smelly store, but to no avail, as my mother just had to get her cinnamon stick potpourri and pumpkin wall plug-ins or else it wasn’t fall!

For some reason, I don’t equate the smell of pumpkin spice to fall coziness or aesthetic, but rather, ready for it: old people. I have no idea why but pumpkin spice reminds me of musty attics and mothball bitten sweaters wearing grannies who I am leery about when they hand me half-melted tootsie rolls from their pockets stuffed with used tissues. And I know what you’re thinking, I have a granny like this, well I don’t, she prefers scarfs over sweaters, smells better than pumpkin spice, and we get along great, although she really does like tootsie rolls. To be honest, it sort of baffles me how much people are obsessed with this scent when I just think it smells like weird old ladies, who I respect and want to be like when I’m older, but you won’t catch me smelling like pumpkin spice, probably lemon though! Getting back on track, there are a plethora of delightful fall scents that could easily knock the crown off of Ms. Pumpkin Spice.

Wood Stove/Fire Pit/Fireplace

 I grew up with a wood stove in my kitchen and two brick fireplaces and a father who loved to heat the house in the winter with the woodstove, so I am a lover of cozy fires. I would spend hours curled up with a blanket, tea, book, and cat, Jinx, relaxing, and tending to the fire in front of the fireplace and woodstove. Now, I love taking walks when the sun is setting, closing my eyes to take the atmosphere all in. The smell of a mature bonfire, the sound of unfurling leaves underfoot, and the bracing air on my face transport me to my lazy childhood days in front of the fire, and that is priceless.

My Mother’s Veggie Soup

I’m a foodie who loves soup, so as soon as fall rolls around, I beg my mom to make her vegetable soup. It’s Alton Brown’s recipe, slightly modified, and it is the best soup I have ever tasted. She puts in extra leeks, pearl onions, and peas because those are my favorite.  I not only enjoy its flavor, but I also savor its preparation. When my mom and I chop up the vegetables, it gives us time to talk and joke with each other, so that is why this soup is near and dear to my heart. Plus it’s so colorful and warm when you return home from a tough, cold day.

My Perfected Banana Bread

There is nothing better than the smell of warm banana bread when it is ready to come out of the oven, and when I say I have an obsession with banana bread, I mean I have an obsession. For my birthday a few years back, I was given a matching pair of a banana printed apron and oven mitts, (sadly not also the mug with the banana-shaped handle, but maybe next year) and whenever I make my banana bread, I put on my banana uniform and become one with the glorious fruit. I use four bananas when the recipe calls for two. If the bananas are extra ripe, as they should be, I use ¼ cup of sugar when it calls for ½ cup to one cup, which is a lot of sugar if you ask me, and of course, I double the vanilla extract measurement as my father, the well-known cookie master of the neighborhood, has divulged is why his cookies taste so damn good, and there you have the secrets to my well-loved banana bread, well, all of the secrets I am willing to share.

Warm Oatmeal

I typically eat oatmeal year-round, but I find that I put more effort into my oatmeal preparation during the fall. I like plain Quaker Quick Oats because I’m impatient and typically running late in the morning, so I don’t have time for the slow stovetop. I use water, not milk to cook the oats in the microwave, it doesn’t sound appealing to some, I know. Then when it is warm, take notes because this is a game-changer, I add heavy cream to it. It makes it thick, creamy, and indulgent. Then, I will add chopped walnuts and some sort of fruit, typically blueberries, strawberries, or bananas, but guess what, last week I added stewed cinnamon apples, fancy, huh? Then I add a sweetener, either maple syrup, honey, or dark brown sugar, and then I add just a bit of salt, sometimes cinnamon and that’s my comforting fall breakfast, folks!

Cranberry

Okay, this may sound like a weird one, but I adore cranberry juice, but not just any. Not cranberry cocktail, not sugary cranberry juice, but the 100% Cranberry-Raspberry juice by Ocean Spray. Cranberries have this bitter, earthy taste that I find refreshing and I seem to crave cranberry juice the most in the fall, so if anyone from Ocean Spray is reading this, I can’t ride a longboard, I’ve tried, but please send me a truck full of your Cranberry-Raspberry anyway, I’ll give the truck away and keep the juice, thanks!

As you can see, there are so many more fall scents and flavors you are missing out on if you only give your attention to pumpkin spice. So, next time you are tantalized by the big P.S., stop and think about exploring a different way to experience the spooky season. Your nostrils and tastebuds will be grateful for the change!