Is Pumpkin the New Bacon?

updated May 12, 2022
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It should come as no surprise to anyone who, well, eats that bacon has ruled the food scene in recent years. For a while, it seemed bacon was in and on everything, from cupcakes to cornbread. But there’s a new food in town, and its name is Pumpkin.

As New York Magazine recently pointed out, pumpkin is everywhere—in lattes, mass-market bagels, and high-end cocktails. Research firm Datassential even noted in their annual MenuTrends report that more than 60 pumpkin-related dishes appeared on the menus of America’s top 250 chain restaurants in the last year, while pumpkin drink offerings increased a whopping 400 percent during the past five years! This seems to indicate that pumpkin popularity is not merely a seasonal phenomenon, but a sea change.

How is it that the lowly pumpkin managed to achieve such swift, startling popularity? Well, it’s a bit of a marketing ploy, especially since pumpkin is often flavored with sugar and spices first:

As a marketing tool… pumpkin is perfectly pitched for today’s eaters…A pumpkin dish, in the era of the locavore, has connotations of virtue–when you think of pumpkin, you think of something farm-grown and wholesome. That helps make it a permissible indulgence, even when what you’re eating is mainly just sugar and spice. Never mind the recipe realities–savor those associations!

So, at least for restaurants, it’s not pure pumpkin that has people in a tizzy. In fact, as New York Magazine notes, “pumpkin dishes don’t even need any actual pumpkin in them in order to cash in on the warming, autumnal vibe.” It’s a feeling, an association.

Time will tell if pumpkin (or the idea of pumpkin, really) has the staying power of bacon. Not convinced? You could just combine them (!!) and call it a day.

Read More: Pumpkin Is the New Bacon | New York Magazine

Related: What Will Be the Next Bacon? Our Top 5 Trend Predictions

(Image: New York Magazine)