Kansas City is gearing up for the holidays and the Plaza lights will soon be lit. But, until then, Halloween, with all its giving and receiving, tricks and treats, boos and ghouls, and pumpkin carving is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, falling short, only to its polar opposite, Christmas. Ironic, how the two most lucrative celebratory days on the calendar are diametrically opposed, black and white, good and evil.
Potentially, 41 million trick-or-treaters, between the ages of 5 and 14, will acquire a generous share of the $19,000,000,000.00 worth of candy, produced by nearly 1800 U.S. candy makers and handed out by more than 89,000,000 households! The numbers alone speak volumes, as to our desire as a nation to take a break from reality and pretend, if even for one day. To take a hiatus from the norm and act like a kid again. Very nostalgic for most of us. Running through fallen leaves, going from house to house, sweating intensely behind a plastic mask or oven hot clown make-up, knocking on every door, of every house that has a porch light on, adrenaline pumping out of control, and your greatest hope, to fill your pillow case or plastic bag, full to the brim with cavity provoking bits of sweet enamel annihilation.
Unbelievably, between trick-or-treaters and adults, Americans consume about 25 pounds of candy each annually, a vast measure of that on Halloween. It’s a day that very likely brings an airy hope to dentists everywhere.
You can’t think of Halloween without picturing pumpkin’s and carving them into jack-o-lantern’s. A great healthy substitute for all that candy would be the pumpkin. This fruit is so versatile you can make car mats out of the rind. When children go out to trick-or-treat, by the nights end, they will have encountered only a miniscule portion of the one billion (yes…1,000,000,000) pounds of pumpkins produced annually in the United States.
Not only are pumpkins fun, but, they are also a great source of nutrition. Native American’s used pumpkin seeds for food and medicine, because of their high potassium and Vitamin A content. Pumpkins were even once recommended for the removal of freckles and curing snake bites. In colonial times, Native Americans roasted long strips of this fruit called, “isqoutm squash” in an open fire, and flattened strips were dried to make floor mats. Pumpkin seeds are roasted for a snack, used in feed for animals, and the flowers are edible.
The name pumpkin originated from “pepon”, the greek word for “large melon” and originated in Central America. They are members of the vine crops family called cucurbits. The Connecticut field variety is the traditional American pumpkin. The Colonists sliced off the pumpkin tops; removed the seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie. In fact, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling.
The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake. They range in size from less than a pound to over 1000 pounds. The Guinness World Record: Heaviest Pumpkin, weighed 1,810 lbs., grown by Chris Stephens of Stillwater, Minnesota in 2010. Nearly, 90 to 95% of the processed pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois.
So, this Halloween, please be safe and enjoy the 2nd most commercially successful holiday with a slice of pumpkin pie.
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