Season’s Eatings

24 09 2012

It must be rough selling seasonal foods. I mean, things are rosy for a few weeks or months, and then you slip into relative obscurity.

Think about it. Turkeys are consumed primarily at Thanksgiving and at Christmas. Egg nog (thank God) is pretty much a Christmas holiday thing. Ham is associated with Easter. And pumpkins? Well, we’ll be nice and given them the last quarter of the year.

It’s up to the marketing folks to help convince consumers that they should really be eating these fine items all year long. It’s also little different for foods associated with specific times of the day. I remember when, as a kid, my family would live dangerously and have scrambled eggs and pancakes for Friday night dinner. Breakfast for dinner? Are you crazy?

Similar problems plague things like grapefruit juice, sausages and hash browns. Those are morning foods, didn’t you know?

Savvy marketers, though, have occasionally worked miracles, erasing seasonal or time-specific consumption practices. Take pumpkins, for example. Some are speculating that pumpkins are the new bacon.

Of course, that kind of talk is sacrilege to bacon fans (which is another product to overcome its time-bound slot). Heck, if the folks at Peeps can do it (did you know they have Peeps for just about every holiday now?), so can the Pumpkin Growers’ Association (I just made that part up). And, truth be known, I see it happening.

In addition to all the seasonal brews available right now (I had a Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale the other night), which stretch the ways that pumpkins can be used, I have recently found myself adding pumpkin seeds to my deli sandwiches downstairs at the Quiznos, as well as delighting in the pumpkin-stuffed ravioli at Amarillo’s Sava restaurant, a new Italian eatery along I-40. I hope that I can continue to consume these two delicacies throughout the year, as they are delicious. Let me tell you about the ravioli. Oh my God, it was scrumptious, bathed in a brown sugar butter sauce. It all melted in my mouth.

Wait. Focus, Nick. Focus. Focus. Write your blog. Exhale…

Alright, I’m back.

It really matters not that a food product is only grown seasonally, as there are worldwide sources for just about every food grown, as well as packaging and canning options that allow for easy purchase, storage and usage. The hard part is just getting people past autumn (in the case of pumpkins).

Now I realize that I am treading on the thin ice of breaking with tradition, but this is, after all, 2012. We are no longer bound to seasons. We buy strawberries in January because they are available in Florida. We eat Florida blueberries in March, their tomatoes in December, and eggplant in October. We also eat nectarines, plums and peaches from Chile throughout our winter (their summer).

If consumers can get beyond the harvest aspect of pumpkins, then I suspect we will see many more farmers growing this space- and water-intensive crop. After all, size in this crop is the stuff of county fair lore. They win prizes. And then you can grind them up and eat them.

Or make beer. Sprinkle seeds on a sandwich. Or stuff into ravioli. Because, while pumpkin may not quite have the same tasty allure as does bacon, it’s not bad. And I could totally dig eating and drinking them all year long. Heck, it’s got to be one of the most versatile foods around. What else could you carve into a ghoulish face, but then turn around and eat or drink later?

Yeah, even bacon doesn’t measure up on that count.

Dr “Pie R-Squared” Gerlich

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