As soon as the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to change, it seems as if everywhere we turn, there is pumpkin-flavored something, from coffee to cookies to breads. However, it is not only the fall season that brings to mind certain flavors and scents as almost every season has a particular flavor that tends to be popular.
“I would think that stems from our childhood,” said Chuck Stanko of Dolce Bakery & Coffee Shop in downtown Milford. “Smells are so closely tied into our memory. Our mom baking gingerbread men for us to decorate, the cinnamony-smell of baked goods filling the house as we decorate the tree. The unique smell of fresh-cut pumpkin just conjures up great memories that we subconsciously want to relive with each pumpkin bar or pumpkin-spiced latte.”
Psychologists believe that Mr. Stanko may have stumbled onto the reason why certain scents and spices are popular at certain times of the year. Instilling a scent or flavor into a season that evokes warm memories and nostalgia improves mood, makes us feel more socially connected while also providing a certain measure of comfort. Warm sweaters, the smell of fallen leaves and pumpkin have become synonymous with autumn, just as peppermint and gingerbread have become connected to the warm feelings generated at Christmas.
In some cases, the fact that pumpkin is more readily available in the fall is another reason for its popularity. Most companies market pumpkin-flavored items on a limited basis so that consumers cannot get them after the season ends. This can create a greater demand for the product since the belief is that the item will not be around as long. Mr. Stanko says that Dolce sees an upswing in orders for pumpkin-flavored items as soon as fall is in the air.
“Fall brings an insurgence of everything pumpkin,” Mr. Stanko said. “Pumpkin-spiced lattes, pumpkin muffins and Dolce brings back our pumpkin bar. It is incredible and a big hit each year. The pumpkin season lasts until after Thanksgiving when peppermint and gingerbread become the most popular. During the Christmas season, our gingerbread and candy cane lattes are very popular.”
Mr. Stanko says that every season has popular flavors and tastes. In the spring, customers order more mint-flavored coffees, while in the summer iced coffees and lattes with berry flavoring is popular. Spring dessert flavors lean toward key lime cupcakes, Irish cream and white chocolate cheesecakes while in summers customers look for lemon bars, blueberry muffins and cookies. Mr. Stanko says that chocolate is a big favorite throughout the winter, especially their Stick-in-the-Mud, which is actually popular year round; however, Dolce does sell more of them in the winter. Mr. Stanko said that chocolate is a comfort food which is why it is so popular in the colder months.
During the holiday season, Mr. Stanko said that larger items such as cheesecakes and cookie trays are very popular, more than likely because people are entertaining. Dolce offers platters of baked goods for holiday parties and each year they offer a special Thanksgiving and December menus that include unique treats for special orders.
“Last year, we had a really great and unique ‘Yule Log’, which is a Christmas tradition from Germany,” Mr. Stanko said. “It was a thin, yellow sponge cake rolled in fresh buttercream, then rolled up, covered in chocolate buttercream, cut and decorated to look like a log.” Dolce is still constantly on their holiday menu for upcoming seasons. They are posted on their website at www.dolcebakery.com so customers can begin to plan for placing orders. For more information, individuals are encouraged to contact Dolce Bakery & Coffee Shop at 302-422-5760 or visit their downtown Milford location at 36N Walnut St.