They flock in at the first hint of fall (mid-July for retailers), propping themselves in corners like a Sanderson sister has just wandered off to find a dead man's toe. They are rustic, a perfect complement to all of the pumpkin-mum-hay-bale tableaus littered across American suburbia. But why? Why cinnamon brooms? Out of all the possible Autumn-inspired decor to create, why did society birth a witch's broom that smells like the world's most painful chewing gum?
When did we skip those sickening-sweet Plug-Ins and aerosol cans of spicy poison and go straight to inhaling wholesale particles of bark?This is an assault on the senses, and I curse every box of brooms my shopping cart bumps into as I try to gather all the pumpkin spice goodies I can find. Why so many? Surely the correct number of cinnamon brooms is one per town.
My very first job was working as a bagger at my neighborhood Publix. It was a good job, and I really enjoyed working during peak holidays for all the seasonal goodness that happened, but it was also my first introduction to those blasted cinnamon brooms. Boxes of them would arrive, and the stock team would place them right by the doors, right by the cash registers, and right inside the lobby where I returned carts 8,230 times a shift. All I could smell was straight-up cinnamon — it literally burned my throat — and it ruined all the pretty set-ups of the orange and green gourds and giant pumpkins. Who wants to pick out a squash to cut into the shape of a kitty cat when there's a cinnamon stick the size of a garden rake invading your space?
Look, put all the tiny pumpkins you want out — I have a stack of glittery ones inside a mini cake stand. Hang black bats and wreaths and dried autumn foliage on every spare corner of your house. Jump a few months ahead and layer your plastic Target Dollar Spot skulls with tinsel — do what you want. But for all that is holy, skip the cinnamon. When did giant things scented like cinnamon even become a fall thing? Cinnamon sticks remind me of wassail, which reminds me of Christmas caroling and trying to be subtle as you accidentally slurp in some of the floaters in your mug and have to chew up a piece of star of anise without anyone noticing. Why not just suck on a conker of nutmeg — is that festive enough for you? And what happens when one tries to sweep with a cinnamon broom? You end up with cinnamon all over the floor. Why are we doing this to ourselves?
'I know you hate these,' he said diplomatically, inhaling all of that terribleness so vigorously, I saw cinnamon fly off the ends of the bristles and into his nose.
The real shocker is that I have yet to see a single one of these brooms in anyone's home. I see them in giant boxes, wafting all of their spicy fumes throughout the grocery store, and then I never see them again. Are they the same brooms being put out every year? Is there a warehouse full of these brooms that just perpetually smells like an ancient car freshener?
A few weeks ago, in a fit of happiness, my husband and I wandered through the Halloween section of Home Depot. My husband, who loves Big Red and is quite content with the inside of his home smelling like a dry rub, stopped at one of those giant broom boxes. "I know you hate these," he said diplomatically, inhaling all of that terribleness so vigorously, I saw cinnamon fly off the ends of the bristles and into his nose.
I sighed. "Let me smell them again. If you really want one, maybe I can get past it." I leaned in. I took a small sniff. Not as bad as I remember, I thought. I leaned in closer and took a bigger sniff.
Three minutes later, I woke up on the floor of Home Depot where I had fallen after the scent of cinnamon violently flew straight into my brain and gave me a concussion. Why, cinnamon brooms? Why? There are better ways to make your home feel homey. Try a pot roast in the oven. Try using a broom to sweep up all the dirt your children dragged in after making corn husk dolls all afternoon. Or maybe try making something with actual cinnamon — the kind that smells like home and Grandma and not a frat boy trying to hide the scent of his Natty Light.
And if none of those appeal to you, then, by all means, continue smelling like the shelves after holiday season at Bath & Body Works. You can hop aboard your cinnamon broom and fly it straight to hell.