Fall Scents: Which One Do You Like Most or Least?


Pumpkins, squashes, and corns are some of fall’s familiar sights. (Mimi Ahn/The Observer)


Pumpkins, squashes, and corns are some of fall’s familiar sights. (Mimi Ahn/The Observer)
Pumpkins, squashes, and corns are some of fall’s familiar sights. (Mimi Ahn/The Observer)

Fall has finally come to New York. The leaves have turned bright and the temperature is crisp. Best of all, however, are the scents of fall. The outdoor markets around the city have switched from carrying tropical fruit to fragrant apples and pumpkins. The hot, heavy smell of summer is gone and has been replaced with a lighter and fresher smell. The return of cinnamon and spice can be found on almost every block thanks to the countless Starbucks locations around the city. Many students are excited for the return of the fall favorite pumpkin spice latte. Coffee drinkers everywhere are rejoicing that the warm fall drink is back to bring comfort and sweetness for the cooler days ahead.

So, all of this talk of smells and smell categories got The Observer thinking about our favorite and least favorite fall aromas. We decided to ask Fordham students, which fall smells they think are the best and the worst of the season. Of the 60 Fordham students surveyed, pumpkin was the overall favorite by a mile. It seems that Fordham students love everything pumpkin, from the pumpkin donuts sold at the Union Square Greenmarket to scented pumpkin candles.

When asked why pumpkin was her favorite fall scent, Nuwani Irizarry Fordham College at Lincoln Center, (FCLC) ’16 responded, “Because it reminds me of baking and being at home.”

Apple cinnamon came in a close second, with many students gleefully describing their parent or grandparent baking apple pies on a crisp fall afternoon as one of their favorite times during which they could catch a whiff of the warm and sweet scent.

The least favorite fall scent among Fordham students varied vastly. Student responses went from horses to dead leaves to potpourri. When asked about her least favorite fall scent,  Kenice Miller, FCLC ’17, instantly said, “Patchouli,” which is an artificially-scented type of potpourri that has a pungent earthy smell.

While I would like to think that the many scents of fall are vast and complex, a new scientific study might argue otherwise. According to Assistant Professor Jason Castro of the department of neuroscience at Bates College and Assistant Professor Chakra Chennubholta of the department of computational and systems biology at the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, there may not be as wide of a variety of scents out there as we think. Using computer technology, these two professors were able to break down scents to their most basic form. After testing 144 scents, the professors were able to group them into 10 categories, which, according to Professor Castro, “reflect important attributes about the world,” such as food or danger. The professors believe that if people understand the essence of scents, then innovations, such as creating new smells or even predicting smells based on their chemical structure, can be made possible.

While their theory is an interesting one, the professors’ thesis has been met with some skepticism. According to Professor Tim Jacob of Cardiff University, there was a scientist in the 1950s, who came up with a similar hypothesis, except he claimed there were seven basic scent categories. The scientist eventually withdrew his theory due to insufficient evidence.

Overall, students’ favorite fall scents were ones that brought back nostalgic childhood memories and made them think of home. When students were asked about their scents, many cited unique, unconventional fall scents like horses and campfires.

Personally, my favorite fall scents are pretty traditional, apple pie baking in the oven and cinnamon sugar. The diversity of responses is a testament to how unique and vast the Fordham student population is. Because I conducted a non-traditional poll and had students tell me their favorite fall smells responses varied so much that it was hard to determine a clear favorite and least favorite scent, however from what I can tell, fall has arrived in New York and it smells good.


What is your favorite fall scent? Tweet us your thoughts