THE HUNGRY HERALD FOOD BLOG - PUMPKIN FUN FACTS COVER

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It’s that time of year again. You guessed it, we’re talking rakfisk time! If you’re not already somewhere in the vicinity of Fagernes, Norway, get off your ass and do something about it. The Rakfisk Festival is just around the corner, a few mirthful and pungent days commemorating the Norwegian delicacy that is trout fermented in salt and water for up to one year. By many accounts boasting a challenging signature odour and flavour, it is a dish perhaps best endured by the uninitiated after an anaesthetising amount of aquavit. Book your flight now. 

Rask Fisk Festival - Fun Facts About the Pumpkin
Rakfisk Festival – Source: BBC.com

Oh yeah, it’s also Halloween. Halloween means pumpkins, lots of ‘em. From its hallowed beginnings as one of the oldest domesticated crops, to being unceremoniously carved into a “gun ‘o lantern” with an AK-47 in (hopefully not) your neighbour’s backyard, the pumpkin has been through a lot and is always a good sport. 

Pumpkin Carving With an AK 47

Here are some “funkin” facts about our favourite glowing gourd as well as some uses we never expected in no particular order, just for the random hell of it. Enjoy.   

1 – BIGGEST ONE EVER

This just in! There’s a brand new heavyweight champion of the world of Smart Car-sized gourds! As of this very month, the record held by Belgian grower Mathias Willemijnins since 2016 (1190.49 kg!) has been broken, and not by very much, a testament to the unexpectedly dynamic and competitive world of colossal pumpkin rearing. The crown has been transferred to one Stefano Cutrupi of Bordighera, Italy, whose oversized contribution weighed in at 1226 kg, aka 2702 lbs, aka well over a ton. That’s a whole lot of Libby’s.

The 2021 World Record held by Stefano Cutrupi - Fun Facts About the Pumpkin
Broken World Record, Courtesy of Stefano Cutrupi – Source: PumpkinNook.com

2 – “TAKE A KAYAK!!”

So what does one do with one’s award-winning giant pumpkin once the ribbon pinning is done and the champagne has all dried up? Rather than parade it around town on a forklift until it rots, some of us, like Howard Dill of Windsor Nova Scotia, decided to cast their pumpkin off across the lake, while piloting from within of course. 

Yes, pumpkin kayaking is for real, in fact so real that the good people of Windsor hold a regatta every year in which citizens paddle Lake Pisquid in a giant floating squash of their own carving. And they’re not the only ones. Pumpkin Regattas are held from coast to coast these days so get carving ‘cause there might be one coming to a lake near you! And if rowing a gourd isn’t your thing, some people out there are “going motor.”  

Pumpkin Kayaking
Pumpkin Kayaking In Full Effect – Source : FX1019.ca

3 – SMASHING PUMPKINS LIVE!

If you simply wanna trash it, one highly effective way to dispose of your superfluous monster squash, as well as the family station wagon should it be time, is pumpkin dropping. Across the good ol’ US of A, people gather by the droves come pumpkin time to watch crane-lifted mega specimens fall from the sky directly onto anything from automobiles to refrigerators to inflatable pools. 

1,411 lb pumpkin crushes a fridge from 175′
Giant pumpkin dropped 100 feet into pool at Bauman Harvest Festival

In Stillwater Minnesota, they fill the pumpkin with candy and once the smashing is done, hordes of deliriously ravenous children descend upon the wreckage to feast. These spectacles are undeniably satisfying to behold, so beware, once you start watching them on YouTube, you may have a hard time getting back to your life as it was, pre-smash.

Stillwater Harvest Fest Drops 2,000 pounds of pumpkin onto a GoPro

4 – “PUNKIN CHUNKIN”

Another way to send excess gourds through the air is pumpkin chucking, also known as punkin chunkin. The chucking in question is done by means of homemade launching devices authorized for the proceedings, such as catapults, trebuchets or pneumatic cannons. 

Delaware is the proud home of punkin chunkin as well as the Punkin Chunkin World Championships, an annual event showcasing innovation and physical prowess — as in “show us your physics” — so expect some geeking out on torsion, centrifugal force and the like at one of these. Also, there are some pretty strict rules, one of which is no explosives allowed, so leave the mischief at home. 

World’s Largest Chunk? | Punkin Chunkin: SuperChunk!

It may be slightly less satisfying to watch than a giant pumpkin killing a fridge but the passion and dedication shown by the amateur and professional engineers who make punkin chunkin happen is impressive to behold. As Ed O’Neill’s character says in an episode of Modern Family named after the activity: “Less talkin’, more chunkin.”

Less talkin', more chunkin'.

5 – BIGGEST PUMPKIN PIE EVER

On September 25, 2010, somewhere in New Bremen, Ohio, 5000 pieces of pumpkin pie were served. From one pie. Members of the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers group baked a pumpkin pie so colossal that it was placed right on the Guinness Book of World Records’ proverbial window sill. 

Tipping all the scales at a whopping 3699 pounds and measuring 20 feet in diameter, this thing blew away the previous record (baked by the same folks) which stood at a decidedly wimpy 2020 lbs by 12 feet. The list of ingredients included 187 #10-size cans of pumpkin, 233 dozen eggs, 525 lbs of sugar and the crust was made of 440 sheets of dough. Just looking at those numbers, we’re getting nervous. And maybe a little hungry.

Pumpkin Pie Record - The largest pumpkin pie ever baked - Fun Facts About the Pumpkin
Pumpkin Pie Record – The largest pumpkin pie ever baked – Source: PumpkinNook.com

6 – PUMPKINS, ALL KINDS

If you’ve been labouring under the misapprehension that pumpkin varieties are limited to whatever you see at the grocery store before Halloween and that’s pretty much it, you’re missing out. Connecticut Field pumpkins, Cinderellas, pie pumpkins and those mini ones gracing store displays everywhere aside, pumpkins come in a surprisingly kaleidoscopic range of colours, shapes and names. 

Depending on who you ask, there are anywhere between 40 and over 100 varieties. From the adorable, ghostly white Baby Boo to the unsettling and seemingly nut-infested Peanut Pumpkin, to the unforgettable, bumpy Black Futsu, there’s a variety out there for every mood. Long Island Cheese anyone?

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
Long Island Cheese Pumpkins

7 – WELCOME TO MORTON, ILLINOIS

Although China and India now produce about half of the world’s pumpkins between the two of them, the self-proclaimed (with good reason)  Pumpkin Capital of the World is the village of Morton, Illinois. Over 1,5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced every year in the United States with 95% of that yield coming out of Illinois. That being said, the Libby’s/Nestle plant in humble Morton produces over 82% of the canned pumpkin in the world. Thank you Morton! 

Since 1967, the town has held the Morton Pumpkin Festival in celebration of the pumpkin’s role in their community and history, drawing somewhere in the neighbourhood of 75 000 people annually these days. And yes, they have pumpkin boats at this thing. 

8 – HELLA GOOD FOR YOU

Believe it or not, pumpkins aren’t just for smashing. The health benefits of the cooked kind (instead of the launched-into-the-heavens kind) happen to be considerable. Nutrient rich and low in calories (94% water), pumpkin is a great source of vitamins and minerals as well as being high in antioxidants which protect your cells against the ravages of evil free radicals. 

Get those peepers ready, pumpkin is an eyesight-strengthening power pack. It’s super rich in vitamin A (one cup of pumpkin purée will pump you with 245% of your RDI), provides ample beta-carotene and is a killer source of lutein and zeaxanthin, bad news for the likes of macular degeneration and cataracts. These compounds, along with its vitamin C, E and abundant carotenoids also make pumpkin a great friend to your skin. And the list goes on.

Health Benefits of eating pumpkin

Did we mention the seeds? Packed with inflammation-reducing antioxidants and all kinds of goodness, they have been linked to a reduction in risk of certain types of cancer and are one of the best sources of magnesium out there, essential for cardiovascular and bone health. 

Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan (that’s right, the turkey stuff). Combined with their high levels of magnesium and zinc, pumpkin seeds may have sleep promoting properties, leading some to dub them “nature’s sleeping pills”. Oh and that zinc? Good for sperm quality and prostate health, so men, get munching. 

How To Make A Pumpkin Cooler | Southern Living

This list of funkin facts could obviously go on and on but we think it’s abundantly clear, there’s more potential packed in the pumpkin than you can shake a homemade catapult at. Carve it, can it, bake it, smash it, put it in a smoothie and ride it down the river, the pumpkin is there and just doesn’t care. And if you haven’t used one as a beer cooler yet, please do so. For something a little more hands on, try a keg.

Pumpkin Beer Keg

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