You did only three things with pumpkins in my youth: made filling for pies, carved jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, and smashed said jack-o-lanterns when they resided on the front porches of families that gave fruit or toothbrushes to trick-or-treaters.
But not these autumn days. Pumpkin, it seems, is the new bacon. It's the go-to flavor and scent additive for everything. Not only have the brewer, the baker and the candlestick maker added the orange gourd into their seasonal rotation of goods, so have the makers of chocolate, pasta and -- I kid not -- Pringles potato crisps.
And why not? According to a recent Nielsen report, sales of various pumpkin-flavored food and drink items rose nearly 19 percent in 2012 to more than $290 million. The stuff is selling like pumpkin-flavored hotcakes except, oddly, at our local IHOP which did not have them on the menu when I ate there on Election Day. It's enough to make you wonder how significantly we could improve the health of this nation if only someone would create pumpkin-flavored kale.