Questions I Want Answers To: Where are we getting all these delicious pumpkins?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

At this point, we’re 25 days into October. That’s 25 days of being surrounded, saturated, completely inundated with seasonal products boasting the much-beloved—and at this point ubiquitous—“pumpkin spice”.

In fact, pumpkin spiced “stuff” has become such a bedrock of October (especially) and parts of November that I imagine most of you, upon reading those words above, immediately and subconsciously reached for your keys as the first step to an impromptu trip to Starbucks for their most famous of seasonal lattes.

Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. My theory is that they put an addictive chemical in it that, after only two sips, triggers a Pavlovian response in your body. You’re conditioned to yearn for some concoction of nutmeg and cinnamon at hearing the words “pumpkin spice” just as the proverbial mean girls crave drama.

Seriously, Starbucks should probably be donating half it’s fourth quarter profits to the Pavlov Institute or something.

Anyway, the point is, the PS is everywhere right now. It’s so much everywhere, in fact, that even I’ve noticed you can’t walk 10 feet in North America without being bombarded by something theoretically pumpkin-spiced. And that’s pretty impressive considering I rarely notice even remarkably obvious things, you know, like the sun, or the hands attached to the ends of my arms. I’m so often lost in the thoughts of my own little world that you could hit me across the bridge of the noise with a rotten mackerel and then tape said fish to my back as an expressionist “kick me” sign, and I likely wouldn’t notice.

So yeah, the pumpkin products have profoundly proliferated.

Ignoring the fact for a moment that “pumpkin spice” isn’t even a real thing—I mean it’s not; crack open the nearest orange shell and tell me whether or not it smells anything like that latte you’ve been sipping—what I really want to know is, where in the unholy name of Monsanto are we getting all these pumpkins?

Think about it: your entire grocery store is overrun with pumpkin-flavored stuff. Pies, cakes, cookies, candies, beers, breads, sausages, donuts, teas, muffins, whatever. Well, okay, maybe not pumpkin sausages yet, but surely someone will try it soon. Probably be next year’s fad, likely popularized by one of those crazy food truck people you see on the Cooking channel. It’ll be covered in a kim-chee slaw which will look disgusting but somehow taste like rainbows on your tongue, like buffalo fairy wings or something. But I digress.

Yep, buying groceries in the fall means being awash in orangey hues, numbed to pumpkiny pervasiveness.

And yet…

How often do you see pumpkins actually growing, you know, in a field?

Oh, but Puddin, you say, we take the kids to a pumpkin patch every year to pick out the perfect speciman for Jack-o-Lanterns.

Sure, sure you do. So do we. But then, is it really a pumpkin patch, where the brightly colored bastards are sitting happily on a vine, waiting to be cut off, plucked up off the ground, and taken home? Or is it more likely a place where you take the ever popular hay ride out to the middle of grassy field where any number of pumpkins can be found sitting in the patient hope of being chosen, with nary a vine in sight? As if perhaps they were flown there and dropped off by a flight of magical pumpkin storks one night under the harvest moon.

If autumn were instead flush with products laced with a more readily apparent crop, I might not be so surprised.  I mean, who doesn’t expect that sooner or later corporate crop-growers are going to find a way to suffuse our everyday lives with more corn, even beyond the nefarious high-fructose corn syrup? Who will be the first to offer a corn spice latte? Would that really come as much of shock considering the stuff is grown everywhere? Hell, it’s probably already half-way to sentience by now, too. Pretty soon we’ll all wrap up our Thanksgiving dinners with a big wobbly slice of sticky corn pie.  That candy corn you love so much is going to be replaced with candied corn, and before long, sweet, golden, cream-filled corn rolls will likely line bakery cases across North America.

We’re not there yet, though, thank the holy tractors. The flavor of fall these days is still decidedly pumpkin.  But I don’t see fields of fat orange globes nestled among vines when I drove through American’s farmlands.


Yet everywhere else I go, I see fully-grown (over-priced) specimens just begging to be purchased, or an endless array of foodstuffs claiming them as a primary ingredient. So how has our demand not outrun the available supply?

The entirety of my consciousness is consumed with pumpkiny goodness.  And that’s fine.  It’s great, even. I heart the bloody orange things.

I just can’t help wondering if aliens are leaving them as a means of population control.

That is, assuming they aren’t—like everything else we consume—simply made in China.


57 thoughts on “Questions I Want Answers To: Where are we getting all these delicious pumpkins?

  1. There are some (rare) pumpkin patches out here that grow their own (but still have to buy overstock from … China?). I suspect the rest are grown in the magical state of Maine in between their magical donut shops.


  2. Don’t you remember our ONE pumpkin vine in the front yard in Burlington? Have never had a PSL, my personal fab is DQ’s pumpkin pie blizzard – available in October AND November!


  3. Your mom does make corn pudding forwhich your wife has a fondness. Perhaps corn spice will come next although historically corn squeezins seem to have a corner on the overall yearly market…lol


    1. My mom and wife are both huge fans of corn pudding. I’ve never quite gotten used to the texture, myself, but I keep trying!


    1. I don’t think I can argue with your friend. But would it be wrong of me to say that it’s delicious murder. 🙂


    1. Thanks! I’m glad you liked the post. And yeah, I think we’re all a little pumpkin addicted. There are worse problems!


  4. Loved the take on Pumpkin Spice… On a 12 drive back from Yellowstone in late September, I was tired and stopped for a coffee and tried the pumpkin-spice latte I have heard so much about. It did the trick, as for the remaining four hours I’d take a sip, grimace and wonder ‘how in the hell do people drink this crap?!?’

    Hilarious capture of the pumpkin season, well done!


  5. Driving through West Texas, I actually saw fields of vines with big orange globes scattered all through them. We have found the nursery for at least some of the pumpkins.


    1. Progress! Now we just need to find another 3 million pumpkin patches and that’s explain how Starbucks is doing it. 🙂


  6. i love this post, dude. i have to say though, i think you are touching on a pretty important issue. if pumpkin spice doesn’t taste or smell like pumpkins, what in the heck does it smell / taste like and why is it associated with those big round orange things?

    i tend to illustrate this problem by asking the elementary school kids i teach “what does mountain blast powerade taste like?” to which the overwhelming response is “it tastes like blue.”

    i was under the misconception that blue was a color, but i guess kids these days know better.


    1. Honestly, if I had to say one thing, I’d argue that pumpkin spice tastes like fall. And now I’m going to have to try that Powerade so I can finally understand what blue is supposed to taste like! LOL. Thanks! I’m glad you liked the post.


  7. Enjoyed this, thank you. I don’t venture to Starbucks (insert haughty/pretentious mutterings here) but I do wonder at its popularity. To me putting flavours into coffee seems unnecessary, for the most part – though I’m partial to a vanilla latte.

    As for your Pavlovian chemical theory, you could be right… I recall reading a (fiction) book once where one brand of technology was basically God’s gift – as in, everyone and their sister had the gadgets. It turned out the company had used psychology to trigger happy feelings when using the products – phone, iPod, etc, and then they profited because people used and bought more, so they triggered more happy feelings, so they used and bought more, and so on. I don’t remember the title, but that science of it stuck. So maybe the Pumpkin Spice is actually training you to want it over and over… (This is part of why I don’t go to Starbucks, the other part being that they’re very expensive and not especially convenient for me anyway)

    And no, I’ve not reached for my keys to go to Starbucks 🙂


    1. Thanks! I’m glad you liked the post! I’m equally glad you’ve managed to avoid the Siren’s called of the pumpkin spice. I hope your will hold next month when they bring out the minty holiday stuff!


      1. Mmm… I hope Siren call is an extreme hyperbole, considering their role in mythology. Then agin, I’m not a sailor…

        I have a three-reason plan for avoiding Christmas drinks:
        1) next month will be summer.
        2) my nearest Starbucks will be 20 minutes away by car.
        3) if for some reason I do want minty drinks, I can make a hot chocolate at home and add peppermint essence, for much less than the store cost.


    1. Hah! Well, Ohio isn’t far from where I live, so I think this might call for some investigative research!. Thanks!


  8. البولونيوم معدن سام مشع، يصدر إشعاعات من نوع ألفا، وهي أشعة تؤدي الطاقة الناجمة عنها إلى تدمير جينات الخلايا وقتلها، أو تحويلها إلى خلايا سرطانية، وله العشرات من النظائر المشعة غير الثابتة، أكثرها توفرا البولونيوم 210.
    والإشعاع -حسب التعريف الفيزيائي- عملية ينتج عنها انطلاق طاقة على شكل جسيمات أو موجات.
    ويصدر البولونيوم طاقة هائلة، فغرام واحد منه يمكن أن يسخن تلقائيا لدرجة حرارة حوالي 500 مئوية.
    البولونيوم لا يشكل خطرا على الإنسان ما دام خارج جسمه، لكن إذا تم ابتلاعه أو استنشاقه أو حقنه، فإنه يكون مميتا ببطء، إذ تدمر الإشعاعات الصادرة عنه خلايا الجسم، ويحتفظ بفعاليته 138 يوما.
    الجرعة السامة الكافية لقتل أي إنسان بالبولونيوم هي واحد من مليون جزء من الغرام، أي ما يعادل جزءا واحدا من خمسمائة ألف جزء من حبة أسبرين.
    تشخيص الإصابة بالبولونيوم صعب جدا، ولا يمكن اكتشافه بأجهزة رصد الإشعاعات المعتادة، ولا تظهر الإصابة به إلا بظهور بعض الأعراض المرضية، مثل الإصابة بفقر الدم وضعف مناعة الجسم وتساقط الشعر واضطرابات الجهاز الهضمي.
    ولذلك فإن مادة البولونيوم تعتبر إحدى أنجع أنواع السم التي تستخدم في عمليات الاغتيال السري، وذلك لأن الإصابة بها لا يتم اكتشافها إلا بعد أسابيع، وربما بعد شهور.
    هذه المادة هي التي تم بها اغتيال العميل السابق لجهاز الاستخبارات الروسية (كي جي بي) ألكسندر ليتفينينكو أواخر نوفمبر/تشرين الثاني 2006 في العاصمة البريطانية لندن.
    اكتشفت البولونيوم عام 1898 العالمة البولندية ماري سكودوفسكا، وزوجها الفرنسي بيير كوري، الذي حملت اسمه بعد زواجهما، فصارت معروفة باسم ماري كوري.
    وسمت ماري -التي فازت بجائزة نوبل للفيزياء مرتين، الأولى عام 1903، والثانية عام 1911- المعدن الذي اكتشفته بالبولونيوم، اشتقاقا من اسم الدولة التي تنتمي إليها وهي بولندا.
    البولونيوم نادر جدا في الطبيعة، ويوجد بكميات ضئيلة جدا في التربة والهواء والمياه، ويشتق خاصة من الصخور المحتوية على اليورانيوم، أو من خلال تفاعلات كيميائية تولده من مادة اليورانيوم 226 (10 آلاف طن من اليورانيوم الخام تحتوي على غرام واحد من البولونيوم).
    يوجد البولونيوم أيضا في التبغ، ويعتقد أنه أحد المكونات الرئيسية التي تجعل التدخين يسبب السرطان.


  9. I am immune to that addictive pumpkin spice flavor chemical! I’m currently selling vials of my blood for analysis. I’m going to be rich once someone figures it out.


    1. Thanks! Sounds like a brilliant plan! But…you might want to be careful who you mention that to. If Starbucks catches wind you’re looking for an antidote, you might have to go off the grid! Heh.


  10. We have some patches in MD. However, it is truth that “pumpkin spice” tastes nothing like pumpkin, nor does that pie filling look anything like the inside of a pumpkin…I think it’s a made up flavor. Ick. I abhor pumpkins, except for aesthetic purposes..and even then, moderation!!
    Cute post!


  11. I loved this! I can’t say that I haven’t been thinking the same thing…so much that I had to try the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. All i can say is “ick”!!! I didn’t even finish it which is unheard of for me after spending $4+ on a coffee! Thanks for the laugh…


  12. This post just jumped out at me, as one of my girls is in the middle of her seasonal pumpkin obsession. I’ll even be enjoying pumpkin lasagna for dinner tonight. I don’t doubt that pumpkin sausage will be created, or at least pumpkin spice syrup to go along with the eggs-sausage-pancakes breakfast!


  13. I enjoyed this post. I love everything with pumpkin. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin chips, pumpkin salad and pumpkin colour cloth. And I love Halloween with a lot lot pumpkins!!!


  14. I think I need to read up on North American culture a bit. The pumpkin thing…Is it because of 1: Hallow’een or 2: Thanks giving? No, wait a minute, that’s the turkey business. Australians… we do live ‘down under’. Apologies for ignorance, and thanks for the humourous post. Yep, that’s how we spell it…Thanks


  15. Interesting take. Now who started this making of Jack-o-lanterns? A conglomerate’s means to a spokesperson, a pagan ritual that went epidemic? More likely some black magic, where each and every one of them grinning at us is really a spy from Hades checking up on us, looking for his newest acquisition.


  16. This is outstanding! Love the post. Thank you!

    It is definitely true that the more inundated we get by any certain item or ingredient the further away we stray from what made it popular to begin with. I would bet that less than half of 100 people would recognize the actual flavor or pumpkin in a blind taste test!

    Of course as we start to distance ourselves from the Orange Squash time of year we begin the cycle of the candy cane inspired minty Christmas everythings! and the eggnog infatuations!!

    Thanks again, and Keep it up!! 🙂


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you so much for the kind words. And, you’re absolutely right, I doubt most people could identify actual pumpkin flavor if they had to.

      What’s that? Egg nog. Why, that sounds like a lovely idea! For me, though, the complication there always boils down to: bourbon or rum? 🙂

      Thanks for reading, I’ll be sure to check out your blog!


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