Saturday, October 31

Do you know your pumpkins?

-> Pumpkins are native to North America, but today are grown on every continent except Antarctica. Note that corn and pecans are also native to North America, but far more difficult to carve into frightening faces. As for Antarctica, it's not certain that anyone has ever really tried to grow pumpkins there, a fact possibly related to the average temperature of minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

-> Until 1981 the biggest pumpkin ever recorded was 460 pounds. By 1994 that record was over 1,000 pounds, and the present record is over 1,600 pounds. In that same time period the average weight of an NFL lineman has gone from 277 pounds to 318 pounds. This does not necessarily indicate (but does not rule out) that NFL linemen are eating more pumpkins than they used to.

-> The pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, mashed or roasted, and the seeds are often eaten as snacks. In India it's cooked with butter, sugar and spices. In Thailand small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert. And as Harry Potter fans are well aware, pumpkin juice is the drink of choice at Hogwarts and is a favorite at their feasts.

-> Canned pumpkin is sometimes recommended by veterinarians as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats with digestive problems. The high fiber content helps to aid proper digestion. For humans, canned pumpkin is often added to pancakes and waffles or made into "pumpkin fluff" and served with apples, pears, pieces of pound cake, gingersnaps, marshmallows, or graham crackers.

-> Pumpkin chucking ('Punkin Chunkin') is a competitive activity in which teams build various mechanical devices designed to throw [catapult] a pumpkin as far as possible. The present record is almost one mile. It seems there is an entire culture growing around this pastime. The World Champion Punkin Chunkin Association holds competitions, awards scholarships and even runs a beauty contest (for people, not pumpkins).

-> Jack Pumpkinhead was a character in several of L. Frank Baum's Oz book series, but unfortunately, never made it into the movie. He was not alone in that respect, however. Other characters in the Oz books that movie-goers may not recognize include: Patchwork Girl, Cap'n Bill, Doctor Dillamond, Lonesome Duck, Betsy Bobbin and Ugu the Shoemaker. So it wasn't all Kansas, witches and flying monkeys with Mr. Baum.

-> The U.S. produces 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins each year, with most coming from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California. According to the University of Illinois, 90 percent of the pumpkins grown in the United States are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois. The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.

-> The carved pumpkin is called "jack-o-lantern" because the candlelight inside resembles the flickering lights of that name that appear over peat bogs in Ireland. Of course this begs the question, "Then why aren't they called pete-o-lanterns?," to which we have no good answer other than the old parental favorite … "Just because, now eat your peas."

By Max Reilly for the Discovery Channel
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Have a fun-filled day of sweet treats, pumpkin spice lattes, and candy corn. :o)

1 comment:

Jordan & Sue said...

I realize I didn't know SQUAT about pumpkins! That was a fun read, and it sure makes me wish I liked pumpkin!