Halloween Scents

August 25th, 2009 by John Wolfe

I find that the more emotionally attached we are to an event; the more prone our senses are to storing it in a vivid manner. The sense of smell is perhaps one of the strongest in this regard. The following post includes personal encounters with five of my favorite Halloween aromas, all based on specific events and written in the present tense. You may be surprised to find I don’t include traditional Halloween scents such as pumpkin spice, black licorice, etc. While I can appreciate many traditional Halloween smells, I tend to have more obscure, eclectic tastes when it comes to my fall favorites.

1. Singed jack-o-lantern innards: The flickering light is conspicuously absent from one of the pumpkins. Upon lifting the lid, I find that the candle was placed too close to the jack-o-lantern’s moist walls. The dampness extinguished the flame. However, the burning candle lasted long enough to char some pumpkin flesh. As I peer down the chimney and into the belly of the gourd, the toasty scent immediately engulfs my nostrils.

2. The bottom of the candy bowl: Under the porch’s black lights, I reach into the humongous bowl; my knuckles graze the bottom – signifying the last pieces of candy are being removed. As the trick-or-treaters make their way back down the drive, I’m overpowered by a residual mixture of Sixlets, Snickers and M&M’s. The trio has been marinating in the bowl for days, just waiting by the front door. Their sweet, chocolaty scent saturated the plastic container and is now being released into the chilly autumn air.

3. Hot glue and cornstalks: It’s 3 AM and I’m working outdoors by the light of a precariously perched flood lamp; adding the finishing touches to my haunt’s cornstalk display. Three hundred stalks are secured in place; each one is attached with a variety of materials. The tip of the hot glue gun, partially obscured by shadows, repeatedly sears the stalks; creating a smoky aroma of fall harvest.

4. A Halloween shop: As I walk through the doors, I’m immediately taken back to my childhood where rubber bands ruled the world of kids’ costumes and masks. The thick scent of plastic and foam filled latex, with just a hint of ozone (emanating from mechanized props), circulates throughout the store.

5. Damp leaves and overturned earth: Halloween at dusk — ten bags of leaves have been spread throughout the yard haunt’s graveyard and I’m still left with bare spots. Bagged over a week ago, the leaves are ripe from condensation and many an afternoon of warm temperatures. As I drive to the river in search of more of their fallen comrades, the smell lingers on my hands and wafts up from the steering wheel. Time is short. I hurriedly bag as many leaves as possible. With the sun rapidly disappearing behind the cottonwood trees, I’m now frantically grabbing for all I’m worth. The deeper I dig, the more prominent that ripe, musky smell becomes, but this time it’s accompanied by a woody scent and fresh earth.

I hope you enjoyed this list. I’ll be continuing with more of my favorite Halloween scents in a future post. Come to think of it, I really should turn some of these into fragrances. Who wouldn’t want to use cologne that smelled like hot glue and cornstalks? :)

4 Responses to “Halloween Scents”

  1. autumnforest Says:

    I totally get love it!….rotting brown apples on the ground, roasting pumpkin seeds, chili, cornbread, cinnamon, nutmeg, hot cocoa, tea, potpourri, smoking match, rain-soaked leaves, distant fires…

  2. John Wolfe Says:

    Ooh yeah, those are some good ones too! I’m especially feeling the rotting apples, as my grandparents have several apple trees. Although I didn’t usually spend Halloween at their house, I do remember walking through the “orchard” near autumn and observing the sights and smells of the fallen apples.

  3. Frog Queen Says:

    How positively lovely those descriptions are, brings fall right up in my mind. Thanks for sharing.


  4. John Wolfe Says:

    Thank you, Frog Queen, for your nice message!