It's Time to Admit Pumpkin Pie Is Bad
Superior pies exist. It's time we ate them instead.
Pumpkin pie is not great. In fact, it's terrible. And in this era of delicious desserts we, as a Thanksgiving-feasting nation, should realize that we only eat it because tradition says we must, not because we actually like it.
I have distinct memories of sitting in my elementary school lunchroom, suffering through a slice year after year at the annual Thanksgiving lunch. I saw many slices tossed into the trash can, too, wholly untouched. At church potlucks, Ms. So-and-So's famous pumpkin pie was the hot commodity. My family always served a slice to me. I lusted after Ms. Cobb's pecan pie or my grandmother's beloved caramel cake. Pumpkin pie, as far as I concerned, was a punishment.
As I grew older and began cooking desserts of my own, I finally put my finger on it: Pumpkin pie is gross, its texture unattractive and its flavor repellent. We eat it because tradition says we must.
The barely-sweet squash mixture — you do know canned pumpkin isn't really pumpkin, right? — is turned sickly perfume-like with nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, three spices I adore otherwise, but not here. The filling is then usually made more gloppy with the addition of evaporated milk and a few eggs. But even when baked, the pie filling fails to set up into a consistency that is enjoyable. It's neither thick enough to chew (like sweet potato pie) or thin enough to slurp (like chocolate cream pie).
And don't misunderstand my flavor disagreement with pumpkin pie. I like the flavor of many "pumpkin" things, especially pumpkin bread. I even like pumpkin cookies, which often highlight the same flavor profile as a pie. But there's something about the gelatinous, gummy, coagulated pumpkin pie filling that is just vile. And if you, like me, are tired of tolerating it with a grimace on your face while you daydream of pound cake or apple pie with a oatmeal streusel, join me in saying, "No more!" Pumpkin pie isn't good, and we deserve better pies!
I get that some of you actually have found an appreciation for this "dessert." In fact, more than 6,000 people have made our Perfect Pumpkin Pie. When I told my family I was writing this story, they erupted into exasperation. "You've never had good pumpkin pie then!" To which I replied, "Well, I ate your pumpkin pie for decades, so you tell me if it was 'good' or not." Silence.
We eat pumpkin pie as a tradition. It was served by our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, so we serve it now. It's just what we're told we have to have. But collectively, we, the silent pumpkin pie haters, are tired of it.