Monday, November 12, 2012

Call me Johnny Pumpkinseed.

The annual Pumpkin Challenge is more than just competitive eating. It is also creative cooking and a scavenger hunt. This season, I have spent more time in the kitchen than the rest of the year put together. I have justified absurd detours to track down treats both real and unreal. It is a path wrought with disappointment, the greatest of which was a place that offered pumpkin-chai chocolate truffles last year (Fantastic!) but did not this year (Sucktastic!). But is also a path of celebration and victory! Yes, victory! I doubted I would ever break 2010’s record of consuming 40 distinctly different pumpkin items in the 47 day span of September 15 and October 31. But, despite a 12 day trip to less pumpkin-centric parts of Europe, my obsessive traits helped make the implausible possible. My final number is enough to bring Baskin-Robbins to shame: 52! 

My trip to 2012's Highwood Pumpkin Fest where they carved
over 30,000 pumpkins. They may be more obsessed than me.

Pumpkin items consumed:
pumpkin cake doughnut,  pumpkin bagel, pumpkin cream cheese spread, Snap-O-Lantern ice cream by Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, chocolate whoopie pie with pumpkin filling, pumpkin seed granola from Milk & Honey, candied pepitas on a chocolate cinnamon-cayenne doughnut from Dixie Donuts, pumpkin crumble bar, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin seed pesto, pumpkin butter, pumpkin-cherry ice cream from Cherry Republic, pumpkin seed brötchen (roll), pumpkin seed bretzl twist, pumpkin macaroon, pumpkin pancake, pumpkin syrup, pumpkin-swirl brownies, pumpkin macaroni-and-cheese, pumpkin Greek yogurt, pumpkin & flax seed granola bar, pumpkin hummus, pumpkin chocolate mousse cake, pumpkin pasta w/ sausage and mushroom, rabbit sausage with pumpkin raita, pumpkin-parmesan biscuits, green chile-pumpkin seed mole, pumpkin spice waffles, gingerbread and pumpkin baby bundt cake, pumpkin chocolate chip cookie, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin gelato from Black Dog Gelato, pumpkin black bean chili, pumpkin harvest muffin, Trick or Treat Milkshake (pumpkin ice cream, M&M's, peanut butter cups & marshmallow), pumpkin pie ice cream, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spice bark, Smashing Pumpkin Pie pizza from Dimo’s Pizza, pumpkin French toast, pumpkin shepherd's pie, pumpkin butterscotch white chocolate cookie, pumpkin chipotle salsa by Frontera (Rick Bayliss), pumpkin cupcake from Molly’s Cupcakes, chocolate pumpkin seed bark at Julius Meinl, pumpkin spice cake with craisins and caramel cream cheese frosting at Magnolia Bakery Chicago , pumpkin cream puff from Beard Papa's, harvest pumpkin soup, pumpkin seed brittle in a pink lady apple salad, seared scallops with pumpkin risotto and vanilla brown butter, pumpkin flan with orange caramel from Epic, pumpkin chocolate chip bread

Bolded items signify the best of the bunch

The Pumpkin Challenge was started seven years ago, back when finding anything pumpkin before October 1 was nearly impossible. That is no longer the case, which means the Pumpkin Challenge has achieved its short-term goal. Next year, we may need to bump it back, the long-term goal being year-round pumpkin consumption.

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