Sick of the pumpkin spice craze? Then set aside the “spice” bit and get back to the ubiquitous fall flavor’s roots with a whole host of neat-o facts about pumpkins you probably didn’t know. To be fair, most of these little tidbits aren’t things you really need to know… but that doesn’t make them any less cool.
NPR’s Skunk Bear, AKA Adam Cole, has unleashed a new video on the world just in time for Halloween — and of course, it’s all about pumpkins. Eater counted a total of 23 bits of info about the bright orange squash, all of which are entertaining enough on their own... but just to sweeten the deal a little they’re also all illustrated with creative, occasionally animated images made of pumpkin guts and seeds. See? Playing with your food is a useful skill to have.
Scroll down to watch the whole video, but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite facts. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, Skunk Bear wants to see your best science pumpkins! If you’ve turned your jack-o-lantern into a Bill Nye-o-lantern or used it to educate young trick-or-treaters about the wonders of the universe as described by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, send a shot into Skunk Bear via email or Tweet/Instagram it with the hashtag #science pumpkin.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
1. Zucchinis and Pumpkins Could Have Babies Together If They Felt Like It
Pumpkins are the same species as a whole bunch of other squashes, including acorn, yellow, and spaghetti squashes — as well as zucchinis. If you’ve ever wanted to experiment with inter-squash breeding, go ahead and give it a shot. Zumpkins, anyone?
2. The Scientific Term for Pumpkin Means “Gourd Melon”
“Cucurbita pepo” sounds much more impressive, though, even if it’s a bit of a mouthful.
3. Pepitas Might Help Kill Parasitic Worms
We don’t know whether it actually works in humans, but there is a study that proved pumpkin seeds can eradicate parasitic worms in ostriches.
4. Pumpkins Are as American As It Gets
They originate from the Americas; in fact, they were one of the first plants domesticated here — a whopping 8,00 to 10,000 years ago.
5. Pumpkin Beer Isn’t Just a Recent Fad
It dates back to the 17th century, so looks like we can’t blame the current pumpkin spice obsession for it. Also, TIL Blue Moon makes a pumpkin ale. Anyone know if it’s any good?
6. Cinderella Rode in a Very Specific Type of Pumpkin to Get to the Ball
Explorers brought pumpkins from the Americas over to Europe, and in 1697, French author Charles Perrault added the pumpkin coach to the existing Cinderella story. The variety he used was the Red Pumpkin.
7. Pumpkins Don’t Start Life Being Orange
They’re green. As they grow and ripen, the chlorophyll that makes ‘em green breaks down, allowing the orange to emerge — not unlike how leaves change their colors in the fall.
8. The Jack-o-Lantern Is a European Tradition
There’s a story that goes along with it, too. In it, a dude named Stingy Jack tricks the devil to get out of Hell… but then he’s not allowed to enter Heaven, either, presumably because he’s stingy. It becomes his unfortunate lot to wander the earth for all eternity with nothing but a single piece of coal for light. Hence: Jack-o-lantern.
Images: NPR's Skunk Bear/YouTube (8)