Fall is America’s favorite season, but pumpkin spice or cooler temps aren’t the biggest reasons

NEW YORK — Fall is here and Americans are trading in their beach towels for pumpkin spice-flavored everything. While seasonal treats may be a popular perk of autumn, a survey finds they’re not the biggest reason America loves this time of year. A poll of 2,000 people in the U.S. finds more than half can’t wait for the changing of the leaves.

It’s the most obvious choice isn’t it? The OnePoll survey reveals 51 percent say fall foliage is the season’s biggest draw. The weather overall finished just behind the turning of the leaves, with 45 percent saying they love the chill in the fall air.

As for when that chill is just right, Americans think the perfect fall temp is 53 degrees Fahrenheit. Respondents think the best time to enjoy “peak fall” is the first two weeks of October. This is when the leaves are turning but haven’t all fallen yet and the weather is chilly but doesn’t call for a heavy jacket.

Fall food is the best food

The survey, commissioned by Stuffed Puffs, finds the weather may win out but food still plays a big role in autumn’s appeal. Forty-four percent say they enjoy drinking hot chocolate in the fall, while four in 10 can’t wait to make homemade soup.

With Thanksgiving on the way, over a third (35%) say making holiday food is a fall favorite. Baking pies and having anything with cinnamon apple in it was a hit with 31 percent of the poll.

Pumpkin spice may have a cult following, especially among coffee drinkers, but it turns out only 30 percent of Americans call it their favorite thing of the fall.

COVID’s effect on fall plans

Although 33 percent of Americans say fall is their favorite time of year, many won’t be able to fully enjoy the season in 2020. Due to COVID-19, two in three respondents say they plan to have a quieter fall than usual. Three in 10 say the pandemic has cut down the number of activities they participate in and 31 percent add their favorite fall past times have been canceled this year.

“We’re sad to see a third of respondents aren’t able to do any of the fall activities they typically enjoy,” says Stuffed Puffs founder and CEO Michael Tierney in a statement. “But many respondents are adapting to this year’s unusual circumstances — it’s a great opportunity to introduce new traditions, whether that’s watching a scary movie every Friday or a virtual bake-off on the weekends.”

To make up for fewer outdoor outings, 28 percent of Americans say they’ll be eating more holiday foods this year. Many will also be carving pumpkins, watching more horror movies, and having a treat-filled (and socially distant) Halloween parties.

TOP 30 FALL FAVORITES:

  1. Watching the leaves change color 51%
  2. The chill in the air 45%
  3. Drinking hot chocolate 44%
  4. Getting ready for the holidays 40%
  5. Making homemade soup 40%
  6. Beginning to cook holiday foods 35%
  7. Watching Halloween movies 35%
  8. Wearing big sweaters 35%
  9. Listening to the sound of rain on my roof 34%
  10. Lighting seasonal candles 33%
  11. Baking pies 31%
  12. Having cinnamon apple food/drinks 31%
  13. Making pumpkin pie 31%
  14. Having pumpkin spice food/drinks 30%
  15. Drinking hot apple cider 29%
  16. Carving pumpkins 29%
  17. Wearing chunky socks and boots 29%
  18. Stepping on crunchy leaves 28%
  19. Wearing plaid/flannels 28%
  20. Baking pumpkin bread 28%
  21. Going “leaf peeping” 27%
  22. Having a backyard campfire with friends 27%
  23. Seeing my breath when walking outside 27%
  24. Roasting marshmallows 27%
  25. Eating candy apples 26%
  26. Taking fall-themed photos 26%
  27. Seeing frost on the grass 25%
  28. Going pumpkin picking 25%
  29. Eating pumpkin seeds 25%
  30. Wearing scarves 25%

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