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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Penn chapter.

There is one singular smell that’s even better than the scent of fall — the smell of your kitchen during fall. So start inhaling, because the time is finally here to open your eyes and palate to the onslaught of foods that are unfortunately only socially acceptable to eat now. Since half of us are mentally still in March, it feels appropriate to take this opportunity to ignite your appreciation for autumn cuisine and remind you why it’s time to be craving fall food…

As we segue out of summer, it’s natural to mourn the end of barbecues and fruit salads. But the grieving period must come to a close because the existence of fall food is short-lived and must be embraced fully. When you think about it, autumn food is the only seasonal food impossible to find any other time of the year. Winter’s hot cocoa converts to chocolate shakes in the summer; summer smoothies roughly translate to year-round acai bowls. However, nothing can mimic the tangy flavor of a Pumpkin Spice Latte in any season but fall. It’s the sad reality that a crisp slice of apple pie is hard to come by in the winter, and snickerdoodles seem to hibernate for three quarters of the year. Because of the ticking time we have allotted to enjoy it, we must absorb the tastes of fall immediately.

It’s lucky that the autumn food window is here right now because now more than ever, it will provide much-needed stability amidst these rapidly changing times: Its versatility will perfectly complement your diverse range of autumn activities. Fall food is comfort food when you snuggle up under blankets to watch Halloween movies and eat candy corn (biting off one color tier at a time, I presume, because that’s the best way to eat it afterall); it is homework food when you sip a chai latte and wistfully look away from the awkward silence in your Zoom breakout room; it is family food when your aunt slices you a giant piece of pumpkin pie that you tell yourself you can’t possibly finish (but you proceed to grab another slice anyway). 

Autumn food will also help your body deal with the weather you either hate or love: Now begins the weird time of putting on a sweater and jeans in the morning, only to be dripping sweat and changing into a workout tee once afternoon hits. In all its wonderful glory, fall food serves as a perfect moderator for our fluctuating body temperatures. You’ll never have a burnt tongue or brain freeze with fall delicacies; the only bodily sensation they invoke is a dopamine release. When fall is changing everything, like our stress levels, our wardrobes, and our sleep schedules, we owe fall food a thank-you for being a comforting constant.

The pandemic has brewed a flourishing relationship between a hungry girl and her baking skills. Stuck in semi-quarantine, there’s no better time to put down the chemistry homework and do a little kitchen experimenting. Our kitchens became banana bread factories during quarantine, and now they’re ready to be repurposed into pumpkin bread workshops. While it is a fun, inexpensive activity when you’re stuck at home, if you dread washing dishes, keep in mind that licking the batter definitely counts as cleaning… 

If we’re being totally realistic, though, sometimes opening a recipe and figuring out where you even keep the mixing bowls can feel like a Martha Stewart-themed ordeal you just don’t have the time for in a 24-hour day. Worry not, because store-bought processed fall food is sometimes even better than home-baked food, and usually it won’t do much damage to your debit card bill. Dunkin’s Pumpkin Donuts, Trader Joe’s Apple Cider Donuts, Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese (don’t knock it ‘til you try it), and Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies are a few yummy treats to get you excited for your next grocery store run. 

For the sake of your taste buds, don’t hesitate to stuff yourself with the delightful treats of the season…after all, pumpkin and apple flavors must be healthy somehow, right? Hit the kitchen or the store, and start chowing down because before we know it, we are going to be looking at the “Sorry, this product is not available” screen on Instacart. 

Happy start of fall, and happy feasting!

Amy N Weiner

U Penn '24

Amy is a freshman from Chicago studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She loves spending time with friends and family, and loves to meet new people! She used to play tennis, and now is a frequent SoulCycle and CorePower yoga patron. A philosophy she lives by is that the "phone eats first", and she loves to discover the best food places to go. Some of her favorite texts to receive are music recommendations, and her music taste ranges from Taylor Swift to Drake to Luke Bryan. She values giving back to her community, and is involved in several charitable organizations. Amy is so excited to be a part of Her Campus!