“The flavors of childhood foods seem to leave an indelible mark, and adults often return to them, without always knowing why” –Eric Schlosser, “Why the Fries Taste so Good”
Smells can be associated with so many things: they can evoke memories and emotions and remind you of a specific moment in your life. Whether it’s that perfume your mom wore growing up, or the smell of your favorite pizza place that you loved in high school, smells are a powerful tool that can constantly bring up different memories. In his article “Why the Fries Taste So Good,” Eric Schlosser writes about how powerful smell is when it comes to our appetites and memories, and how it effects what we like to eat. Schlosser criticizes the major manufacturing of smells and tastes that Americans adore so much, and explains the science behind why humans’ appetites are so affected by the smells of different foods.
I am someone who is guilty of eating (and enjoying) a few McDonald’s french fries in my lifetime. The greasy and salty fragrance of those perfectly crisp fries will make anyone want to devour them. That kind of connection is what fascinates Schlosser. So many different smells can make people hungry. Everyone knows that smell constantly pouring out of fast food restaurants like McDonald’s. It is that classic greasy french fry aroma that makes you feel like you’re gaining weight just by smelling it. It makes any hungry person’s stomach growl, but it is undeniably makes us want to eat.
I know of the exact kind of connection that Schlossinger writes about in his article. For me, the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies has always made me feel this sense of comfort. The warm, sweet smell of the chocolate chips paired with the simply delicious scent of the cookie batter always reminds me of winters back home. Schlosser stated that “Aroma and memory are somehow inextricably linked” and the aroma of chocolate chip cookies is one of the smells that can always make me feel like a kid again. Though growing up, the cookies weren’t always made from scratch, the smell always reminds me of warmth during the colder months.
A lot of the food I grew up around during every kind of midwestern season was processed. Schlosser states in his article that “About 90 percent of the money that Americans spend on food is used to buy processed food.” I will unashamedly admit that I grew up eating those processed foods that Schlosser criticizes. While I love any chance to bake delicious chocolate chip cookies from scratch, I am also someone who will toss that blue tube of Pillsbury’s chocolate chip cookie dough in my basket at the grocery store. Regardless of the amount of authenticity behind them, the smell of the cookies baking brings me an overwhelming sense of home to me whenever I bake them. The smell reminds me of my little brother coming into the kitchen every five minutes asking “Jules, are the cookies ready yet?” He would peek into the oven hoping for some indication of how much longer the cookies would take, and once they were done, he would shamelessly shove the hot, freshly baked cookie into his mouth.
Different seasons bring about different foods. Pumpkin a flavor that is undeniably linked to Autumn. There are so many different foods that incorporate pumpkin during this time of the year; whether it be sweet pumpkin bread, comforting pumpkin muffins, or savory pumpkin and sage ravioli, pumpkin is that flavor that I always link to fall weather. The smell of it brings me back to crunchy leaves, bonfires, and haunted hay rides, so I thought that pumpkin chocolate chip cookies would be the perfect combination of two smells that make me feel at home no matter where I am.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 cup of canned pumpkin
1 cup of white sugar
¼ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of salt
2 cups flour
As many semi-sweet chocolate chips as you desire
- In large bowl, add one cup of canned pumpkin, white sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil, the egg, and the vanilla extract
- Beat until completely smooth
- Add in cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, and chocolate chips and beat together until they are combined
- Cover tightly and chill for a few hours
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Place 6 mounds of the dough on the sheet
- Bake for 12-15 minutes