This post will not be a litany of things that should not be pumpkin spice flavored. I have nothing against pumpkin spice flavoring; I recently saw pumpkin spice Life cereal (my favorite) and I kind of want to try it. My question, though, is why pumpkins? There are so many varieties of squash ranging from the interestingly non-seasonal zucchini to the I’ve-never-eaten acorn. Is it the size? Like, were they of such propitious proportions for the pilgrims that partaking of a single squash amply satisfied all? This was my first hypothesis, thin though it is, before I set about doing some reading.
(As an aside, it doesn’t really matter how thin your first hypothesis is. The point is to continue to the reading stage, in pumpkins as in life.)
I admit that reading Wikipedia does not really constitute actual research, but a casual perusal of the Wikipedia page for pumpkin immediately elucidates a few important facts. Firstly, what most English speakers call pumpkins are of a few different cultivars that generally hold to the round-orange description; Australians and Kiwis apparently use the term more broadly for all winter squash. Also, the pumpkin is distinctly an American (in the continental sense) fruit–yes, fruit 😦 –though it is now grown on every continent except Antarctica. The oldest evidence of pumpkins, indeed, is from Mexico.
Now, as far as the whole holiday angle, there are a few things. I vaguely recall reading this many years ago, but I’ve now gotten my Wikipedia refresher: carving vegetables in autumn is like a long tradition in the British Isles. Why? I really have no idea and I’m not certain I have any particular desire to know. Typically, the vegetables in question were turnips and rutabagas (aka swedes, but that’s another issue that I’ve talked about before). When migrants from those islands arrived on this side of the Atlantic, they were just like, hey these pumpkins are super plentiful and much larger, let’s carve them instead. And for a long time, the association was very much the harvest season in general and became particularly connected to Halloween gradually through the years. The whole pumpkin spice thing I think really is down to Starbucks but that’s neither here nor there.
In conclusion (of this very brief overview without much actual research to back it up), the pumpkin was a handy means for early settlers in the English American colonies to continue a harvest tradition of carving plants. The connection to Thanksgiving (which I guess is sort of coincidental?) strengthened the association and, somehow, also Halloween something something. And then Starbucks and here we are. Not sure that that explanation would satisfy anyone’s genuine curiosity, but it’s plenty for mine.
Also, since I’ve been a trifle remiss in my cat duties of late, here is a brief update on the cats.
Aren’t they just lovely?
Not much else to report from here, things are going about as one might expect. Nothing too exciting. But there are worse things. I’m rewatching The Shawshank Redemption with some people, what a good movie. It’s real real, if you know what I mean. 10/10 can recommend. Anyway, until next week I hope you do something with pumpkins or maybe other squash because let’s spread the love, yeah?