Not even the Great Pumpkin can be that good all the time

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Perhaps it's the sharp, cool air that has arrived in the last couple of days that's opened my eyes and heightened my senses.

For suddenly I've realized we're in the midst of a full-blown Pumpkin Palooza this fall.

Yep, from weeks before Halloween to sometime after Thanksgiving, it's now pretty much all pumpkin, all the time.

The noble Jack O'Lantern has become a Jack O'All Trades. Pretty sure the Hallmark Channel is about to launch a Pumpkin Movie Marathon. It's 52 Weeks of Pumpkin on the Food Network and ABC Family has "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on continuous loop.

It's all making me a bit loopy (or loopier if you prefer). I just don't understand the fascination.

After all, it hasn't been that long ago that the most attention a pumpkin could count on was for getting carved up on the kitchen table and deposited on the front porch. There, disguised as Jack O'Lantern, his fate could take one of two courses: Being rudely smashed in the street before Halloween or tossed in the trash thereafter.

Likewise, pumpkin pie was once the only edible idea of note for the plump orange fruit. My grandmother spoiled me for any pie to follow, creating such a tasty pumpkin pie of almost magical consistency and characteristic color that not even her own daughter, my mother, could replicate it. Not even sure dessert wizard Stephanie Hurt could.

My sister always thought it might be granny's strategic use of vanilla. I prefer to believe in magic (or perhaps a dash of rum or a pinch of kahlua).

But seldom have I enjoyed any kind of pumpkin pie since grandma passed away so many years ago. In fact, not many pumpkin creations even pique my interest or tickle my taste buds.

And I can't be alone, judging by all the unwanted canned pumpkin that unceremoniously ends up at the Food Pantry after the holidays each year.

OK, admittedly all pumpkin-flavored creations aren't bad.

Pumpkin roll with the cream cheese wound up in a wheel? Now that can be tasty. And pumpkin bread, found to be quite a Hoosier delicacy, is nothing but yummy. (By the way, one of the ladies here at the office makes a mean pumpkin bread. Hint, hint, June).

So with all that in mind, I was astounded to spot a USA Today Snapshot item earlier this week purporting to list the "most popular pumpkin dishes" (quite disappointed, I must add, that the editor chose not to use a pie chart to illustrate it).

Instead, the Snapshot background image looked like a bowl of orange goo with a big spoon. Guess it was meant to represent pumpkin curry, judging from the list, which was based on a GrubHub analysis of 22,000 pumpkin orders over a year.

Surprisingly some 54 percent of those orders were apparently for pumpkin curry. Not sure I've ever even been offered pumpkin curry.

Pumpkin cheesecake was second with 6 percent, followed by pumpkin ravioli (pretty sure that's not a Chef Boy-Ar-Dee option) at 4 percent and pumpkin pie at a paltry 3 percent.

My math skills may be a little shaky, but I believe that totals only 67 percent. And there's no USA Today mention of what comprised the remaining 33 percent of pumpkin possibilities (all of which had to be 3 percent or less).

Yet look around. Dairy Queen is hyping pumpkin pie Blizzards. Starbucks is making pumpkin spice (hey, wasn't that the chunkier Spice Girl?) lattes that every woman I know seems to crave. And at Dunkin' Donuts the other day I spied a pumpkin pie cake doughnut.

Over at Mansfield last week one of the Covered Bridge Festival booths was peddling pumpkin-flavored doggie treats (don't they know dogs love bacon!). And for crying out loud, even McDonald's has shifted into pumpkin-pie mode for its daily dessert offering.

So, all hail the Great Pumpkin.

It won't be long, I'm sure, before we see Pumpkin Special K cereal, pumpkin sliders at White Castle and pumpkin pizza at Papa John's.

But forget all those nuvo pumpkin riches. Shelve those lattes and that pumpkin spice.

Just get me a big, old slice of granny's pumpkin pie. Now, that I could really get into.