Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Tenth Annual Pumpkin Challenge

Welcome to the Tenth Annual Pumpkin Challenge, my autumnal toast to the gourd of the gods. This year, we follow the same rules as last year. Onto the FAQ:

What is the pumpkin challenge?
The Pumpkin Challenge is an annual quest to consume as many varieties of pumpkin edibles as humanly possible. Most years, the Pumpkin Challenge has taken place between September 15 to October 31. This year, I'm getting a late start. Feel free to count anything you ate on Sept 15 or 16.

What are the rules?
Food items may not be doubled. Two slices of pumpkin cheesecake count as one item. The only way it could count for two different items is if the second item has a distinct enough difference of flavor that it warrants a different name AND the item comes from a different source than the first item (i.e. Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory and homemade pumpkin cheesecake). Pumpkin candles or pumpkin soap do not count unless you eat them.

What about beverages?
Yup, they're food. But see the above rule. TL;DR: Twenty pumpkin spice lattes only count as one item.

Does pumpkin spice count? Or does it have to actually contain pumpkin?
Ideally, the ingredients include actual pumpkin or pumpkin seeds. But it all tastes good, so pumpkin spice counts!

What is the record?
During 2012’s Pumpkin Challenge, I consumed 52 different varieties of pumpkin.

What are my chances of defeating you, Brad?
This year, they are pretty good. I'll be on the road for roughly three weeks of the pumpkin challenge and I'm going to guess the pumpkin spice craze is more of an American thing than it is a British or Dutch thing. Your chances of beating my record, however, are slim unless you do a LOT of cooking.

Why does it stop in October? Isn’t pumpkin often a Thanksgiving staple?
Ideally, the meeting of mouths to pumpkin products would go on forever. But we must focus our efforts. The Pumpkin Challenge was created to encourage the same sort of crass commercialism extended to that Santa holiday. We want to encourage—through pestering and purchase—stores offering pumpkin foods at progressively earlier dates each year. Ten years ago, it was uncertain one could find the stuff in September; this year, I blessedly bought stuff in August. Rather than change the period the challenge takes place, we celebrate the bounty we have received.

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