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Is Pumpkin Over-Hyped?

Is Pumpkin Over-Hyped?

The other day I cut up a sugar pumpkin (a name nearly as misleading as “sweet breads”) and baked it to doneness and then worked it into a muffin recipe. Before I completed the recipe, I saved myself a bit of alluring sugar pumpkin for a taste. Blech! It was neither sweet nor characteristically pumpkin-like. It tasted more like potato paste.

The fact is, despite the prevalence of things like Starbucks’ incredibly popular Pumpkin Spice Latte, the actual taste of pumpkin is nothing like what we collectively imagine it to be. More often, what we are tasting when we taste pumpkin-flavored things are an assortment of spices (all spice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc.) as well as (most of the time) a good helping of sugar. But that hasn’t changed the fact that pumpkin, despite its lack of inherent tastiness, is seemingly the new “it” ingredient, possibly even trumping the longstanding heavyweight bacon.

According to a recent New York magazine article, pumpkin is trending high as a very desirable ingredient in everything from pumpkin doughnuts to pumpkin cocktails. Dataessential, a marketing analysis firm says, “This year is on track to be one of the most active years for seasonal pumpkin menuing” and could top the 2011 record, when more than 60 pumpkin-related dishes appeared on the menus of America’s top 250 chain restaurants.”

No doubt this popularity is not due to pumpkin’s inherent flavor, which it is sadly lacking, but to aggressive marketing that equates pumpkin with all things autumnal and good. What do you feel are the virtues of pumpkin (besides its carving properties)? Does all the pumpkin hype and fanfare amount to anything but another vehicle to move highly spiced and sugared foods into the mouths of the easily duped? Or is pumpkin just too great to pass up?

Related:
10 Pumpkin Recipes for Fall
There Will Be NO Bacon Shortage
Kale: Is There Too Much Hype?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

45 comments

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7:06AM PDT on Mar 23, 2013

I love butternut squash mashed with potatoes, and I love pumpkin-carrot soup, but all the other stuff with pumpkin, not for me.

11:16AM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Thanks

6:30AM PST on Dec 2, 2012

Overhyped? Well, pumpkins are good.

2:06AM PST on Nov 13, 2012

Of all the "all things autumnal and good", I hands down, prefer Butternut Squash. This is the most versatile and tasty of all the autumn harvest. Personally, I simply peel(with a peeler-it works great),split, clean out the seeds, and chop into cubes then boil in a small amount of water till tender, drain, mash, add butter, salt (actually I have switched to potassium chloride vs. sodium chloride(common salt))and pepper, I also add some hot pepper flakes but not always. Delicious. By the way, to my own amazement, potassium chloride(salt substitute), tastes exactly like salt. So if you are watching your sodium intake, its an easy switch.

6:20PM PST on Nov 5, 2012

One would think that most people research recipes before cooking/baking. If interested in your health, there are many sites that list nutrients. Most of us would surely know that eating colourful veggies is extremely nutritious and a healthy choice.

I don't care for this Care2 article and care even less for the way the author mutilates English eg baked it to 'doneness' ..........

4:18PM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

3:14AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Thanks but I'm not certain what pumpkin you bought or what you did to it, but I rather enjoy them (and unlike most people, not in my coffee, beer, or muffins).

5:49AM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

Love pumpkin pie but also love the same recipe using any type of similar tasting veg.

2:12PM PDT on Oct 30, 2012

I prefer butternut squash over pumpkin! In fact, it wasn't until a few years ago when a friend gave me pumpkin (fresh) that I even used it to bake.... The dogs love it though (i make homemade treats for them!)...

11:30AM PDT on Oct 30, 2012

Plain pumpkin does not thrill me either but it can be used so many ways and there is nothing wrong with spicing it up - after all a lot of those spices are good for you.

I like to use steam pumpkin in brownies instead of water and I reduce the oil by half.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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