WHYY: Why Do We Love the Way Autumn Smells? It’s Not About Pumpkin Spice

There’s something about the scent of fall that people clearly want to capture and remember. Witness Bonfire perfume, pumpkin spice laundry soap, and autumn leaves soaps, candles, and sachets galore.

But it’s the remembering part of that equation that explains the appeal, researchers say. That brisk, crisp, slightly sharp smell we associate with autumn is actually the smell of leaves, trees, and plants dying and rotting. The memories we associate with the change of seasons are what make it pleasurable, even when many of us are allergic to moldy leaves and burning wood.

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