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Inspirational Reads

Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays: Pumpkin Time!

October 19, 2010

One of my favorite things about this time of year used to be pumpkin ales. I love them. Er, loved them. *heaves a heavy, dramatic sigh* Post Road (acquired some years ago by Brooklyn Brewery) and Dogfish Head had two of my favorite pumpkin ales. I'm not sure if one can really pull that much pumpkin flavor from the beer, but the mixture of the spices and the smoothness of the beers were what really drew me in. Plus, I love fall, and the flavors of the beers always seemed to mix well with the gradual changeover from green to red, yellow, and orange of the fall leaves.

However, as you know, I'm not a big fan of pumpkins themselves, stemming from a traumatic childhood experience in which a pumpkin started talking to me. It might have not been just the pumpkin suddenly finding its voice as I drew near; the entire scene was scary, because that house looked like it should be haunted.

Anyway, nearly three decades later, and I still stare at those cold, cruel, demonic faces carved into the empty orange gourds and I fantasize about them suddenly being no more. Thankfully, we have the internet these days. And when you mix the internet, some pumpkins, and some bored people, you get videos! Here's a newer video involving the detonation of pumpkins that I had not seen before. Enjoy!

The one blowing up under water was a nice touch.

Jack O' Lanterns (or Jack O' The Lantern) were not originally pumpkins. The tradition started in Ireland and on Great Britain back around the time when Roman influence was still felt in that part of the world. The pumpkin is a North American vegetable, so it stands to reason that there weren't any pumpkins around for the old Celtic peoples to carve up into garish, illuminated faces. Thus, before the rise of the pumpkin, people used turnips to carve into Jack O' Lanterns.

The Jack O' Lantern was used to frighten off evil or bad spirits that might be hanging around the fields and crops. In the ancient Celtic tradition, the end of the summer was celebrated during a festival called Samhain (which means "summer's end"). Like many other cultures, the Celts celebrated the harvest by thanking and venerating various fertility gods and goddesses during the months of the harvest. The Celts also believed that the boundaries that existed between our world and the world that housed the spirits of the dead and demons grew very thin during Samhain. Thus, the Jack O' Lantern was used to ward off those dastardly spirits that might otherwise spoil the harvest and ruin everyone's good time.

Do you know what the Chinese used to frighten off evil spirits hellbent on wrecking the harvest? Explosives!!! I wonder if it would be possible to carve a pumpkin using explosives???

Well, I'll be damned. I guess it is possible.

Anyway, thanks to the prevalence of witchcraft...or alleged witchcraft in North America, the pumpkin became associated with witches. It was a natural progression to make pumpkins associated with the supernatural. Plus, I can only imagine that it's a helluva lot easier to carve a pumpkin than it is to carve a turnip, but that is purely conjecture.

So there you have it. Pumpkins: they make great beer, better pie, excellent demon protection and fucking fabulous shrapnel.


Chemgeek said...

believe it or not, I've never consumed a pumpkin flavored beer. It just seems gross.

MJenks said...

The only thing I ever thought would be too gross to consume was a watermelon wheat beer someone told me about. He said (and I actually kind of trusted his opinion) that it wasn't as bad as it sounded.


Apparently, though, what I SHOULD have been steering clear of was blueberry beers. *shudder* Every one of those things that I ever tried was shit in a bottle. Of course, they were all pale yellow and had had blueberry "flavoring" injected during the fermentation process, so I probably should have expected what I got.

Helen Ginger said...

Never had pumpkin beer. I'm not a beer fan anyway, but I might give it a try. Pumpkin beer sounds like it might be smooth, not bitter.

I like the kitty in the jack o'lantern costume. It's cute, yet a bit demented.

SkylersDad said...

I want to know what class has exploding pumpkins in it and then go take it!

Elly Lou said...

You know what's gross? Pumpkin butter. I mean, pumpkins already look kind of ass like, right? So I'm pretty sure pumpkin butter is just some bullshit gourmet name for ass butter and I'm just not interested. Ick.

Hart Johnson said...

I love a well-done pumpkin ale! You're right, that the spices are important to it, though--the ones I've had that are weird go too lightly.

And these pumpkin-exploding things look fun--I can get behind that...

And I think every parent has a picture of their child in that exact costume!

Wynn said...

Pumpkin beer sounds yummy when you describe it with autumn and all, but then when I think about it.. I don't think I'll be able to stomach pumpkins after being at that halloween party with all those carved pumpkins and that girl that puked all over them.

Smell in my head, 10 years, still going strong. Brrr.

Pearl said...

Pumpkin beer is okay -- but unnecessary.

Still I wouldn't mind one, you know, if you know anyone...


Eric said...

Pumpkin beer is the noblest of 'flavoured' beers.
Strawberry? WTF? Bleh.

Scope said...

So, Cinderella's fairy godmother didn't turn a pumpkin into a coach then?

Damn Disney, lied to me again! What's next? Is it really NOT a small world afterall?