John Oliver with the truth on pumpkin spice


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As someone who has never tasted “pumpkin spice”, how does it relate to actual pumpkin flavour?

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It should really be called “pumpkin pie spice” (I don’t think that they include any actually pumpkin flavor).
So, usually some combination of the following (in ~order of inclusion probability): cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, clove, mace


so generic “dessert spice” then. interesting


More or less, but the nutmeg and ginger are close to the front in pumpkin pie spice, while I feel a lot of other desserts feature cinnamon and cloves more.

Man I just really do not find John Oliver to be funny! As @crenquis explains Pumpkin spice, John Oliver clearly misses the point!

Usually the term means a blend of spices intended to complement and enhance the (rather bland) natural taste of pumpkin flesh. If you’ve ever had a traditional American pumpkin or pumpkin chiffon pie, then you already know what it tastes like. If not, well, beware of “store bought” pies, they don’t taste like real pie… find an American, preferably Southern or New England American, to make you one.

Edit: And also, pumpkin beer delenda est.

Not one of his stronger performances, but the guy cracks me up.

If your pumpkin is bland you’re using the wrong pumpkin. You want a “cheese pumpkin” or something related. Its a different species than the usual pumpkins you run into (like sugar pumpkins), which aren’t really intended to be eaten which is why they’re so bland. The taste of the cheese pumpkin is much less watery, and a bit more similar to butternut or delicata squash.

How come something ends up called “sugar pumpkin” if it’s not really intended to be eaten? Ironically? Translation error? Cruel prank?

They’re typically described as “warm spices” for whatever reason, probably because they pop up in seasonal foods. We do see them most often in desserts but they pop up a lot in old savory recipes. I tend to associate them most with the meat pies my grandmother used to make. Beef or venison with pork, clove nutmeg and cinnamon.

I dunno honestly. But as I understand it heirloom varieties of American eatin’ punkins started to disappear after WWII and get replaced by edible but intended to be ornamental varieties or derivative varieties intended for industrial canning. My guess would be the sugar pumpkin was an attempt to breed a tastier version of the ornamental varieties by increasing its sugar content. It failed, they’ve got a noticeable sweetness but are still watery and bland as hell. They’re mostly sold as ornamentals now, or for jack’o’lanterns. But plenty of people make the mistake of thinking their good for pie, and I still see a lot of recipes that recommend them.

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Well, it’s what grows in the garden. I’m not going to throw away food just because it takes a little spicing!



As an American now living in New Zealand, I would use this as further evidence that denizens of countries that still recognize the British royal family just don’t get pumpkin.

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Like a Red Delicious apple.


Huh, that was interesting.

I thought he was going to reveal the truth behind the Spice Girls long lost cousin from New Jersey.

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Bland with spices is bland with spices. I want flavors partying with flavors that are complimentary but distinct. /old man rant.

Sugar pumpkins and a couple other big, orange varieties aren’t actually so bad. They’re bland and watery yeah, but you can make them work. Ifin’ you want to grow proper pumpkins I’ve had great luck this year with seeds from Hiigh Mowing Seeds. Nealry every thing we bought from them germinated and produced a strong plant (to the point we tried to sell/give away the excess at a yard sale and ended up throwing half of them away). My mom has had issues with the family garden, multiple diseases, lots of grubs, worn out soil. But we actually did reasonably well using various heirlooms from that place. A couple more seasons we should be able to narrow down what’s wrong just by comparing the resistances of the varietals we try. And they sell cheese pumpkin seeds.

I’m from Long Island, which is apparently the only place these things are still normal. So much so that people seem to have named the variety after us (its not from here and we just call them Cheese Pumpkins here). Were never a hard seed or variety to come by here, but it seems they are else where. So I can vouch for what High Mowing Seeds sells, but there are other heirloom vendors and the Seeds Savors Exchange. Either way the difference in flavor between the heirloom stuff and the ornamental stuff is huge. If your growing it’d be well worth trying some Cheese Pumpkin or another old varietal.


Can’t believe no-one’s mentioned this already.

“we allegedly swallow eight spiders in a lifetime”.

No, we don’t. Even if you say “a lifetime”, instead of “a year”. Just doesn’t happen.

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