It's that time of year for those orange colors of autumn.


Getty Images / Peter Macdiarmid
Getty Images / Peter Macdiarmid

Pumpkins are fun things.  From the start, it's kind of cool to choose your own perfect symbol for Halloween.

Like humans and snowflakes, no pumpkins are identical.

For most of us, including myself, it's an annual ritual choosing one with the best size and shape.  Of course the perfect pumpkin is our personal preference.

The pumpkin has been around for a long time.  I mean a really long time.  They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.  As a matter of fact they have been grown in America for over 5000 years.

Native Americans made it through the long cold winters by roasting pumpkin strips over fires.  They were chomping on and spitting out pumpkin seeds long before baseball players.  Back in the day the seeds were used as a medicine and blossoms were added to stews.  Historical essays do not mention pumpkin pies or hot pumpkin latte's during that period of time.

In case you're curious.  The world's record for largest pumpkin pie happened in 2005.  That big boy weighed in at 2,020 pounds.  There's no guess on how many people fed on that pie.

In 2010 the heaviest pumpkin topped the scale at 1,810 pounds 8 ounces at Stillwater, MN.

Pumpkins are not vegetables, they're a fruit.  They are a member of the squash family, that includes cucumbers and melons.  The Squash family, who were neighbors of mine, were "crushed" when they had to move out of town.

This is my own thinking.  A pumpkin is a pumpkin until it's carved.  After it's carved, walla, you've got a Jack-o-lantern.

There are conflicting stories about the origin of the Jack-o-lantern.

One of the most popular theories says early Jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips and potatoes by the Irish and Scots and were used for Celtic celebrations.

Finally, here are a couple of tips for your carved creation.

To help preserve your Jack-o-lantern coat all the cut surfaces with petroleum jelly.  There are spray-on preservers you can purchase that impedes mold, rot, and bugs.  Or, you can do what I do.  Spray your carved or uncarved pumpkin with hair spray.  This method keeps the mold, bugs, and squirrels away.  Yes, squirrels love to feast on pumpkins.

And, please.  Never ever use a candle to illuminate your Jack-o-lantern.

Always remember, a safe pumpkin is a happy pumpkin!






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