For the entire month of October it seemed every roadside had stands selling pumpkins. Grocery stores had displays of pumpkins for sale. Produce farms seemed to be overrun with big orange pumpkins.
Homes everywhere had pumpkins at the front door, on their steps, and decorating the yard. Pumpkin décor was inescapable.
Lots of them got carved with faces that were either silly, scary, evil or friendly; then lit from within with a candle to light up for Halloween trick-or-treaters.
But what happens to all those pumpkins when Halloween is over?
Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, most people just put pumpkins in the garbage after Halloween is over. They say about 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins go to landfills each year.
But there are actually a lot of good uses for them.
Zoos will gladly take them. Elephants, rhinos, lions, bears, otters, and even giraffes will eat the pumpkins. For giraffes they have to be put in a high place where the animals can reach them.
Farm animals will eat pumpkins too; especially pigs, and even cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens love pumpkin.
If left outside, wild animals will eat them. Raccoons, deer, squirrels, foxes, rabbits, skunks, and rodents like mice and rats will devour them as long as they are cut open so the animal can get to the soft meat inside. Of course who wants to attract rodents by feeding them?!
One of the best things to do with leftover pumpkins is compost them. You can compost the entire pumpkin but you first have to cut it into small chunks. And remove the seeds before you compost a pumpkin, that way you won’t be surprised with an unexpected pumpkin patch the next year where you spread your compost.
Jack-o-Lantern type pumpkins can be used for human consumption too. The meat of the pumpkin can be steamed, pureed, and used in soups, pie filling, or baking. However, I find the meat of the Jack-o-Lantern type pumpkin to be a bit too stringy for cooking and baking and I think the flavor is a bit strong.
My choice for homemade pumpkin recipes is the longneck pumpkin. Each October I start my search for longnecks so I can cook and puree the pumpkin for my Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. This year I haven’t been able to find any so I’m using butternut squash … almost the same as a longneck.
In November, pumpkin frenzy turns from the big orange pumpkins to pumpkin spice. The pumpkin spice craze is everywhere and in everything.
A few weeks ago I was at an arts festival that had more than 200 artisans and craftspeople selling handcrafted wares and art. One of the stands was selling pumpkin spice bath bombs. Honestly, I can’t imagine sitting in a tub of water that smells like pumpkin spice.
Pumpkin spice candles are a big selling item each fall; a fragrant way to keep that pumpkin spice smell in your home. Which kind of begs the question, what is that pumpkin smell? Pumpkins by themselves aren’t particularly fragrant. It’s the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves we add to pumpkin that makes it so wonderful.
Pumpkin spice is everywhere and in everything. It’s given manufacturers a whole new range of products with a season when they’re guaranteed to sell.
You can get Pumpkin Spice Cheerios or Pumpkin Spice Special K for breakfast to have with your Pumpkin Spice Coffee.
For a snack get some Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds, pumpkin spice popcorn, pumpkin spice granola yogurt bars or Pumpkin Spice Goldfish.
Hostess has Pumpkin Spice Twinkies. I bought a bag of Pumpkin Spice Oreos a few weeks ago. Hated them; threw most of them away. Regular Oreos are so wonderful, why mess with perfection! Although I’m glad Oreos now come with mint and peanut better fillings.
Philadelphia Brands has a pumpkin spice spreadable cream cheese. I guess for your breakfast bagels? If you’re on a camping trip you can take some pumpkin spice marshmallows to toast over your open fire.
There’s even a Pumpkin Spice Cool-Aid mix for kids. I don’t think any of the kids I know would actually drink that.
Starbucks started the whole pumpkin spice trend back in 2003 as a way to boost sales and profits. By 2019 they were selling a half-billion-dollars of Pumpkin Spice Lattes world-wide during the fall season.
But it’s only a couple more weeks before Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks are replaced by the Peppermint Mocha Latte and just like that, it’s the Christmas Season and pumpkin season is over.
I may not wait. I may make a delicious Peppermint Mocha Latte right now!
“Oh my Gourd! Pumpkin Spice trend is a $500 million industry in the U.S.”Reuters
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