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(Published: 2011-10-28)

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Pumpkin Paradox.

OK, I was desperate. The end of the month was approaching and I didn’t know what the topic of my newsletter was going to be. I had some preliminary ideas, but nothing felt right. So, on a whim, with Halloween looming, I Googled “Pumpkin Paradox.” Lo and behold, I found pages of entries for Pumpkin Paradox and tons of interesting pumpkin trends.

The first entry was titled “The USA’s Pumpkin Paradox.” It was a blog entry written by an American living in Australia who had offered to bring a pumpkin pie for an ex-pat Thanksgiving dinner. He was shocked to find no canned pumpkin pie filling on the shelves—he found canned mango and guava, but no pumpkin. The writer then wandered over to the produce section and found four varieties of pumpkins, none of which looked like the friendly jack-o-lantern prospects back home. After asking for advice as to which would make the best pie, he left with the Kent, a green-skinned variety with very sweet dark flesh that roasts beautifully.

The paradox in his mind was that while Australians have no holidays that celebrate the pumpkin in any form, and they don’t carve them into faces, or decorate cornucopia, they actually EAT pumpkin…a lot of it. Apparently it’s a common side dish, roasted with lamb or used as an omelet filling. (I assume the homemade pumpkin pie was a big hit.)

Next, an actual recipe for a dish called Pumpkin Paradox. All measurements were in grams, so it must have been from Down Under. The ingredients were red pumpkin, ripe tomatoes, chilies, brown sugar, turmeric, thyme, and rosemary. You serve it with rice. (Vegetarians, rejoice!)

On a Healthy Eating website, I found this: “Pumpkin Paradox A Diabetes Miracle.” The ‘miracle’ part made me skeptical, but apparently pumpkin pie contains diabetes beaters—elements that lower high blood sugar by 30% and triple the power of your body’s natural insulin. (The catch is that you have to greatly increase the amount of cinnamon you use.)

The Bulgarians have an interesting custom. If you wish to insult someone in Bulgarian, you call him a tikvenik—which loosely translates to ‘thickhead.’ Turns out the word tikvenik is also the name of a very popular winter phyllo pastry, filled with grated pumpkins, walnuts, and cinnamon. (Maybe it also fights diabetes!?)

There was a lot of chatter about pumpkin beers. Apparently, most contain no pumpkin at all. (I’d call that misleading advertising, not a paradox.)

Now this is spooky. The classic Halloween special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” that ends with Sally saying: “I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a stupid beagle” is a parody of the literary classic “Waiting for Godot.” (Golly, who knew?)

Of course, I saved the best for last. The first question on the University of Toronto’s test for the 2000 Physics Olympiad Preparation Program was called Pumpkin Paradox. It’s a math puzzler about Farmer Joe creating a one ton pumpkin based on a small scale-model pumpkin supported by 4 wooden poles that….never mind. It made my head spin, but hey, I’m not a physicist. I’m just a Trendmaster that happens to know a lot more about pumpkin lore than I did before my Google search.

And I think that’s BOO-tiful. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Pumpkin pie


Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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