“Mmmm, squash pie!” said no one, ever. And yet, deep within your can of Libby’s pumpkin purée lurks a dark and terrifying secret. That orange gourd that we’ve revered as the ultimate key to fall baking satisfaction? It ain’t pumpkin, kid.
Nope. It’s “Dickinson squash,” whatever the eff that is. Well, OK, we kind of know — it’s a tan-skinned squash whose closest relative is butternut squash. But to most of us, it definitely wouldn’t be recognized as a pumpkin, which leaves me wondering, WTF, Libby’s?
Well, it turns out that the person to be mad at isn’t necessarily Libby’s, which produces about 85 percent of the canned pumpkin sold in the entire world.
Nah, we can find a scapegoat in our dear old friends the FDA. Apparently they find it too confusing to decide what makes a pumpkin a pumpkin and an orange-fleshed winter squash an orange-fleshed winter squash, so they’ve basically said “fuck it” and, for labeling purposes, consider squash and pumpkin the same thing.
Of course, it does make me give major side-eye to Libby’s label claim that says “100% Pure Pumpkin,” because that’s just literally a lie. But whatever… I guess the FDA knows best (LOL, j/k, they are wrong).
So what does it mean that the flavor we’ve all come to know as pumpkin pie has been a lie all along?
More: 19 scrumptious ways to eat butternut squash this fall
Maybe true pumpkin spice isn’t so “basic” after all. It’s a rare delicacy. Maybe most of us are just pumpkin poseurs, walking around like a confused FDA agent with our head in the clouds, carving jack-o’-lanterns into butternuts and making pie out of freaking squash.
Then again, mayyyybe we can give Libby’s this: Literally none of us has ever tasted a pie, pastry or quick bread made with Libby’s only to spit it out in a fury after identifying its taste as squash. At this point, Libby’s blend of Dickinson and other types of squash, including some varieties of pumpkin, is just what pumpkin tastes like to us. Like a fine wine, they’ve blended different strains of orange-fleshed winter squash to supply us with something more than the sum of its parts — a deeply hued, lightly sweet, flavorful blend of orange mush that, for all intents and purposes, is just as good as straight-up pumpkin.
So Libby’s, we forgive you for this. But if it turns out my applesauce is made from goddamn pears, I’m moving to Canada.
More: 17 pumpkin cocktails that prove drinking squash is way better than eating it