Monday, November 15, 2010

Libby's is Never Gonna Give You Up, Never Gonna Let You Down...

Dear Tricia, I tried to make a real pumpkin pie without using a can of Libby's pumpkin pie mix. I followed a recipe where I roasted the pumpkin, added eggs, sugar, spices and evaporated milk. I thought that since I made the pie from scratch it would taste even better than coming from a can, but I was sorely mislead. My pie did NOT taste like the pumpkin pie I'm used to. Why? Was it the recipe?

First of all, I totally just Rick Rolled you in the form of a jack-o-lantern. And if you don't know what that is, I'm surprised you still like my blog. Moving on....

Actually, no it wasn't the recipe- it was the pumpkin. Pumpkin pie such a misleading name for a pie: its not made from the pumpkins you and I know as pumpkins. Libby's has a monopoly on the canned pumpkin industry- they produce about 85% of the world's canned pumpkin and it all comes from a very special, trademarked type of pumpkin grown in Illinois.

Libby's developed a sort of cross-bred type of squash called a Dickinson Pumpkin. It looks more like a giant butternut squash than a pumpkin and its got lots of extra pumpkin meat inside, unlike that wimpy guy you use for carving your gnarly jack-o-lanterns. A Dickinson pumpkin is trademarked by Libby's as their own proprietary seed. (Read: no one else has access to growing or harvesting it except for Libby's.) That means no one else's brand of canned pumpkin is going to ever taste like Libby's because they're the only ones who can grow that tasty little squash. Smart huh? And terribly frustrating if you like to make things from scratch. Their proprietary seed is off limits to you, me, and everyone else who wants to know.

Remember last year when there was a warning that canned pumpkin would be scarce because bad weather affected so much of the canned pumpkin industry's crop? I read about one non profit group who takes produce not-fit-for-harvest and donates it to shelters and soup kitchens. After Libby's crappy harvest of pumpkins last year, the non profit took it upon themselves to ask for a donation of the crapkins and Libby's wouldn't allow it because their proprietary seed is off limits to anyone but the consumer who buys the pumpkin in its final, canned form. (What, you don't think someone would take that crapkin to a professional and try to cross breed their own copy? I'd totally do that. And then I'd sell it to all of you. I'd call it Magic Unicorn Glitter Pie Mix.)

If you want to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, I'd suggest taking whatever recipe you used and try using equal parts of both butternut squash and pumpkin instead of just pumpkin.

And by the way, you're welcome for your newest bit of food knowledge to drop at your company's holiday party this year. That's one even your boss will be impressed with, which might help him forget what you said about him at last year's party after one too many eggnogs. Yeah, we all heard about it.

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