The uses, folklore, and peril of the season’s most popular fruit

Kati Gardella, Crier staff

With fall comes pumpkin spice everything, from coffee to Cheerios. During the process of writing this article, I looked at a slideshow of the most unnecessary pumpkin spice products created, and I disagree with most of the contents of the list, as they sounded very good.

Apparently, there is a seasonal pumpkin spice flavored burger that exists in Japan though, and that’s taking it too far.

If you want to put effort into garnering your fall spirit, you can get very creative with pumpkins. Countless ways exist to use pumpkins as ingredients.

There are the typical pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds, and more out-there recipes like pumpkin chili.

Pumpkins are kind of like tomatoes when it comes to the difficulty of categorizing them. Pumpkins are considered to be a fruit, not a vegetable, and are mainly categorized as squash plants. In fact, pumpkins are the state fruit of New Hampshire.

They have a rich potassium content and also contain beta-carotene. This aids in the regeneration of cells and can be good for the skin, which is probably why there are so many pumpkin face masks on the market. I guess you could get creative with the insides of a pumpkin once you’ve scooped out your jack-o’-lantern.

Jack-o’-lanterns evolved from the custom of carving grotesque faces in turnips and potatoes in order to scare evil spirits away. The name Jack came from the Irish legend of “Stingy Jack.”

The story is that Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him, and then tried to get out of paying for the drink because he was a cheapskate.

He pressured the Devil into transforming into a coin that they could use to buy their drinks with. The Devil obliged, and Jack pocketed the money and kept a silver cross near it so that the Devil could not transform back.

He eventually set the Devil free under the condition would not bother Jack for a full year, but then lured the Devil up a tree, and trapped him there again with the sign of the cross until he promised not to bother Jack for the next ten years. But, after Jack died, God wouldn’t let him into heaven because of his tricks, and the Devil was still very peeved at him.

However, because of their deal, the Devil couldn’t claim his soul. So he sent Jack off with only one burning coal, which he put into a hollowed-out turnip as he continued to wander around forever.

Now jack-o’-lanterns made out of pumpkins are an iconic part of Halloween. Carved pumpkins decorate porches and pop up in media around this time of year.

Consider the use of jack-o’-lanterns in the intro of the Halloween movies, both the original and the 2018 sequel. Pumpkins have also inspired classic Halloween films like Pumpkinhead.

Sadly, the health of pumpkins is currently compromised.

The abundance of squirrels in New England, many of whom are on our campus, pose a risk to pumpkins.

It’s enjoyable to see squirrels frolicking around campus and hiding in the dumpsters, but population growth usually comes with consequences (like seals and sharks), and squirrels are no exception.

Devriendt Farm in Goffstown has lost more than half of its pumpkin crop, which the workers attribute to poor weather and squirrels. Squirrels, along with chipmunks and turkeys, love to snack on pumpkins. Too much rain and humidity and lack of adequate sunlight have also hurt growth.

To keep squirrels away from your jack-o’-lanterns, you can spray hairspray on them. Squirrels also aren’t a fan of the peppermint and garlic combination, so you could also make a DIY squirrel repellent spray.

Happy Halloween! Enjoy your favorite pumpkin-flavored food or beverage, and don’t share with any squirrels.