Ahh, fall. The bringer of sweaters, colourful leaves, and pumpkins. Seriously, if the pumpkin isn’t the most ubiquitously Fall thing in the world, then I don’t know what is. Suddenly, pumpkin is everywhere, and has been dubbed “the new bacon” by New York Magazine. Even countries that don’t have a picturesque Norman Rockwell autumn season are obsessed with the flavour and the idea of the pumpkin. Some say that Starbucks is responsible for this trend, with 200 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes sold in the 11 years since it’s inception.
Pumpkins have been around for a long time, despite their recent spike in popularity. Originating in Central America, they are now grown on every continent except Antarctica, and have grown into a multimillion-dollar worldwide industry. Most pumpkins are grown for processing purposes and the picturesque gourds and squashes we carve and display, or bake into pies is really only a small fraction of the industry. In colonial times, settlers would fill the pumpkins with milk, spices, and honey, and bake it over hot ashes; the first incarnation of what is today knows as pumpkin pie (pumpkin on the outside, not the inside; how bizarre!)
So that was just a little pumpkin history. The real deal about pumpkins is that they are liked so much for a very simple reason: tradition. They are easy to grow, and at the same time every year, a plentiful crop is ready to harvest. Also pumpkins are huge, so it makes sense that they wind up in everything, since there’s so much to use and wasting food was not an option when you lived on a farm. Nowadays, we can just get our pumpkin-flavoured fare at the local bakery, grocery store, or coffee shop, but the pumpkin has also been deeply ingrained as something you just have around when the weather gets cold and the seasons start to change. My mom would always bake a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving even though we all hated it, because a huge pumpkin was $1.99 so why wouldn’t she buy one? Cultural signifiers may have been taken over by corporations to influence our consumption habits, but they did start from a place of truth.
Photo by HonestlyYum
If the pumpkin can truly go with anything, I vote that we should mix it with Rum and make our own tradition. Try serving this at your next Thanksgiving and let us hope that the pumpkin trend never ends.... because pumpkin punch bowl? Heck yes!
Pumpkin Punch (Courtesy of HonestlyYum)