If Grandma’s best baking days are behind her,
and you absolutely refuse to let the holidays pass without pumpkin pie, not to worry Costco
has you covered. The retail giant churns out millions of pumpkin
pies each fall and have built up somewhat of a cult following. But what are those pies actually made with? Costco’s pumpkin pies most certainly have
that delicious nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin flavor that one expects in a slice of pumpkin
pie. The only thing is, the pumpkin in this pie
isn’t the same as that more decorative pumpkin you might also pick up from Costco to turn
into a jack-o’-lantern. If we really want to be accurate here, Costco
should probably start labeling its pumpkin pie as “squash pie” because technically, that’s
what it is. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t roll off
the tongue quite as nicely. “It’s a squash.” “Squash!” “I cook it every Thanksgiving and no one eats
it. Why? Because it’s disgusting.” Before you dump your Costco pumpkin pie in
the trash and demand to know why you’ve been misled by your favorite supplier of bulk groceries,
it’s important that we clear up two things. First off, your typical Halloween pumpkin
known as a field pumpkin is also a type of squash. According to Heirloom Gardener, botanists
typically only refer to a particular group of squash, with the scientific name Cucurbita
pepo, as “pumpkins.” These squash tend to have that distinct round
pumpkin shape and have different leaves and stems than other types of squash. It’s also a lot prettier than the types of
pumpkins that taste good, which are typically known as “Dickinson pumpkins” or “Dickinson
squash.” The Dickinson variety of squash is actually
more closely related to the butternut squash. It has more of an elongated shape, and it’s
a much paler orange color than a traditional Halloween-style pumpkin. Yes, you could carve it, but it’s much better
for eating. Even this is debatable among some in botany
though. Encyclopedia Britannica lists Cucurbita moschata
aka Dickinson squash, as a type of pumpkin. Frankly, it’s enough to make one throw down
their plate of pumpkin pie in frustration and skip dessert altogether. “Any questions?” “Yes, several!” Okay, so the pumpkin/squash debate aside,
let’s get back to the real issue here: the amount of pumpkin in those Costco pumpkin
pies you can’t stop buying. Get ready for some even more earth-shattering
news unless your grandma was gutting field pumpkins herself and making them into a pie,
she was probably baking up Dickinson squash pies at Thanksgiving, too. This is because Libby’s Pumpkin Puree accounts
for 85 percent of pumpkin puree sold, and they use Dickinson squash because it tastes
better than field pumpkins. So why is it that Libby’s is able to get away
with listing “pumpkin” on its label, even though that’s very debatable? Well, like most things in the food world,
the Food and Drug Administration had to get involved. Their website reads: “We have consistently advised canners that
we would not initiate regulatory action solely because of their using the designation ‘pumpkin’
or ‘canned pumpkin’ on labels for articles prepared from golden-fleshed, sweet squash,
or mixtures of such squash with field pumpkins. In the absence of any evidence that this designation
misleads or deceives consumers we see no reason to change this policy.” Basically the FDA said they didn’t want any
part in the pumpkin/squash debacle and threw up their arms a long time ago. Truth be told, you would’t really want a “true”
pumpkin pie anyway because classic field pumpkins just aren’t that tasty. Colonial Americans only ate field pumpkins
when they couldn’t find any decent squash to eat. Field pumpkins were largely given to farm
livestock to munch on. Oh, and prior to the 1800s, we didn’t even
refer to them as pumpkins anyway. Everything was just a squash and one particular
type of squash just tasted a lot crummier than the other. So perhaps we should all cut Costco, and every
other pumpkin pie baker out there, some slack for the squash substitute. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite
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