Friday, October 2, 2020

The Rise of the Unusual Pumpkin

I can remember in the late 1960s and until perhaps 1995, when the main pumpkin for sale at Hallowe'en was the "Howden Pumpkin," the typical bright orange, sturdy pumpkin developed specifically to be carved into Jack O'Lanterns. There were pie pumpkins in with the produce in grocery stores, but the big piles and bins of pumpkins were Howdens, with some Connecticut Field pumpkins dating to before  Colonial times still being grown. 


Later, what I call "boutique" pumpkins began to make their appearances. First there were the white pumpkins, developed here in the U.S., and then many old European standbys, such as Rouge Vif D'Etampes, commonly called the "Cinderella" pumpkin. I can remember in the early 1970s seeing blue pumpkins -- Queensland Blue -- being offered at Bechnel Farms citrus groves near New Orleans, but few takers. I thought them dreadful, since the idea of a smooth, typical Howden pumpkin was firmly cemented in my mind. "Pumpkins should be round, or tallish, and orange," thought my child's mind. What I would give to have those blue pumpkins now, at an affordable price! They were developed in Australia way back in the 1930s. I wonder how the Becnels came to grow them.

Now, warty pumpkins, bi-colored pumpkins, and flat pumpkins are popular. The white pumpkins have been improved, with many appearing an impossible white. Martha Stewart has done much to popularize the strange pumpkins and the unusual pumpkins and winter squash. They almost always grace the pages of her magazine and website. (Ah, magazines. I think soon they will almost cease to be, other than in digital form.)

I have grown pumpkins since I graduated college many a year ago, almost always choosing to grow Rouge Vif D'Etampes. However, I think a seed of the newly popular "Long Island Cheese Pumpkin" must have been in the package, and that is what I recently grew. I am very happy with it! It is actually kin to the butternut squash, which means it will make fantastic "pumpkin" pie, just as butternuts do. It has a pale, tannish color, with just a hint of orange.

Do any readers here grow unusual pumpkins?


  1. I haven't seen many of the boutique pumpkins and this year being what it is, don't expect to get near a pumpkin patch. I'm sticking with a standard round orange pumpkin.

  2. Buttercup, good choice! I do love the typical orange pumpkin! Our local pumpkin patch unfortunately cannot operate as usual this year, so I will just use the pumpkins I grew.


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