As fall descends and Halloween approaches, there is only one vegetable on everyone's minds: Pumpkins! What fun is All Hallow's Eve without a grinning Jack O'Lantern flickering on your stoop, just begging to get its face stove in by neighborhood ne're do wells?! The answer is none.
However, this could be the year that the Great Pumpkin forsakes us all. Did you know that due to blight, wet conditions, fungus, cold-snaps, and some hurricanes, many regions in the United States are experiencing a pumpkin shortage? In fact, in some locations in the Northeast, wholesale pumpkins are so scarce that prices have doubled to $200 a bin. (For those of you who don't follow wholesale vegetable market prices: That's a lot of dough for the gourds!)
It's madness! A year with no Jack O'Lanterns? What can you do?
Our advice to you is this: Get your pumpkin early — like now — and hope that it doesn't become a rotten, stinking pool of maggot-covered ick by Halloween. Or, you can think outside of the, erm, pumpkin and choose to "o'lantern" something else instead. To get your creative juices flowing, here's a list of four things you could do to replace your need for a pumpkin:
A Milk Carton
Whenever presented with an obstacle, the first thing we tend to think of is: "What would a school teacher do?" Nine times out of ten the answer is arts and crafts-based. So join us in pulling out the old glue stick, paints, and safety scissors and get ready for creativity!
First, drink a half-gallon of milk. Done? Good. Well, guess I should have told you to make sure you bought your milk in a cardboard carton, and not a glass or plastic jug. If you didn't do that, go back to the store and start over. Now that you've drank a full gallon of milk, you probably need to lie down for a while, depending on your level of lactose tolerance.
OK. Now that you're back and over your milk-shock, rinse out the empty carton of milk, then go to town on one side of it with a knife (you know, in the usual "triangle eyes", "one-tooth'd-mouth" way). Then paint the whole thing orange. Plop a candle in there and watch as it burns to the ground. You just put a candle inside a paper carton, what did you expect to happen?!
OK. Go back to step one and procede through the directions, again (taking lactose intolerance pills this time, if necessary). Now, this time, drop in one of those flickering LED candles that seem to be everywhere these days. Once that's in: Voila! A Milk O'Lantern! Crafty!
Did you know that glass is very easy to paint on? Well, it is. It's also (relatively) easy to scrape off, using a tiny safty razor and about forty painstaking hours of delicate scraping. So why not paint the windows of your family sedan to look like a Jack O'Lantern? Then, on Halloween, sit in the car all night, flicking the dome light on and off to imitate a candle flame.
Use Your Gourd
Why not try a Butternut Squash O'Lantern? How about an Apple O'Lantern? You can even make it into a game: The family member who "o'lanterns" the smallest vegetable doesn't have to do chores for a week. Raddish O'Lantern, FTW?
The least creative choice on this list, we suggest you hold off on sinking as low as fake pumpkins until very last resort. After all, Halloween is about creativity and ... wait ... it's not, anymore? Now it's about dressing all provocatively and gorging yourself on beer until you throw up?
Sigh. At what point did we forget the true meaning of Halloween?! (Gorging on candy until we throw up — and not telling our parents because we were too embarrassed and knew they'd take away our sweets!) Well, no matter how you like your Halloween, just remember: the story about a kid finding a razor in an apple is pure urban legend ... SO FAR! DUN DUN DAHHHHH! (That that was a "minor chord of spookiness.")