Pumpkins are, without a doubt, the biggest symbol of fall. It's hard to leave the house in October without seeing a pumpkin. People love pumpkins and use them in so many ways. People pick them, carve them and even eat them...or at least they think they do.
Image from Food Network
All of those tasty pumpkin-flavored treats actually have little to no pumpkin in them. The canned pumpkin puree that we use to make pies, breads and more say "100% Pumpkin" on them, but they actually contain a blend of other squashes. Sometimes this blend includes actual pumpkins, but there's no guarantee.
Food manufacturers have to list all ingredients, so it probably seems wrong for foods to be labeled as just pumpkin when there are other squashes involved. Despite this, it is perfectly legal for manufacturers to omit the other squashes from the list.
Image from Mother Nature Network
The FDA does require food packaging to list all of the ingredients the food contains, and it also has the power to define what ingredients are. With the case of pumpkins, the FDA is pretty loose with the term. While we think of pumpkins as those big orange squashes, the FDA defines pumpkin as "golden-fleshed, sweet squash or mixtures of such squash and field pumpkin."
The FDA acknowledges that field pumpkins are different from other squashes, but allows producers to label them all as "pumpkin" when pureed because the organization doesn't think this labeling is intended to deceive consumers.
However, people do feel pretty deceived when they find out about this. Even though we love pumpkins and want to eat them, according to Mental Floss, pumpkins don't taste good and are hard to puree. So, it's probably best that we stick to pretending.
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