Canned Pumpkin is NOT Canned Squash: The Science
By H. Shive
Every year, someone thinks there is a pumpkin-conspiracy - like this article from Mental Floss entitled "Canned Pumpkin Isn't Actually Canned Pumpkin."
It's not true.
So don't attach paranoia to a pumpkin pie just yet.
To the science!
Pumpkin Aren't Squash Because Jack-o-Lanterns Aren’t Zucchinis!
Did you know that the classic orange pumpkin and the zucchini...are the same plant? They're both members of the species Cucurbita pepo!
But we don't call jack-o-lanterns "carved zucchinis," do we?
And we don't cry about a great zucchini-conspiracy, do we?
Canned pumpkin is primarily made with the Dickinson pumpkin. Libby’s brand of canned pumpkin is made exclusively of a variety of Dickinson pumpkin. That’s because the Dickinson pumpkin is the best tasting pumpkin. Pumpkin pies in the United States are overwhelmingly made from this cultivar.
Here’s the Science
The Dickinson pumpkin and the butternut squash are both members of the same species, Cucurbita moschata.
But that doesn't mean that they are both squashes!
Need another example?
Broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts are all members of the same species, Brassica oleracea. But we don't say that sauerkraut is made of broccoli, and we don't say that cole slaw is made from brussel sprouts!
The Dickinson pumpkin is a pumpkin! Just because its species has the butternut squash doesn't make the Dickinson pumpkin a squash...anymore than a jack-o-lantern is really a zucchini...or a cabbage is really a broccoli.
In 2012, American Studies Professor Cindy Ott wrote an exhaustive book entitled Pumpkins: The Curious History of an American Icon - which details how the pumpkin went from poor people's food to an autumn idol of Americana.
Ott tells us that after the Civil War, some southerners thought the pumpkin pie was part of a Yankee conspiracy to corrupt Southern culture!
There was no conspiracy then...and there isn't one now.
Honestly, do you want there to be?
With all the outrage in American society today - constant outrage from every side - don't we all just want pumpkin pie to be honest, American, and delicious?
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Ott, Cindy. Pumpkins: The Curious History of an American Icon. University of Washington Press, 2012.
Hello! My name is Heath Shive, content manager at ScholarFox. I'll be the author of most of the blog posts. I'm a former geologist and currently a freelance writer. The world is complex and seemingly crazy. Good! Because when you love to learn, you'll never be bored.