Pumpkin pie is a traditional sweet
dessert, often eaten during the fall and early winter,
especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the
United States and Canada. The pumpkin is a symbol
of harvest time and featured also at Halloween.
The pie consists of a pumpkin-based custard, ranging
in color from orange to brown, baked in a single
pie shell, rarely with a top crust. The pie is generally
flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
Pumpkin pie is frequently topped with whipped cream.
This pie is often made from canned pumpkin or packaged
pumpkin pie filling (spices included); this is a
seasonal product available in bakeries and grocery
stores, although it is possible to find year-round.
The pumpkin is native to the continent of North
America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds
dating between 7000 and 5500 BCE, were found in
Mexico. It was an early export to France; from there
it was introduced to Tudor England, and the flesh
of the “pompion” was quickly accepted
as pie filler. During the seventeenth-century, pumpkin
pie recipes could be found in English cookbooks,
such as Hannah Woolley's The Gentlewoman's Companion,
which was published in 1675. The recipes did not
appear in American cookbooks until the early nineteenth
century. Pumpkin pie did not become a common addition
to the Thanksgiving dinner until the early nineteenth
century. The Pilgrims brought the pumpkin pie back
to New England, while the English method of cooking
the pumpkin took a different course. In the 19th
century, the English pumpkin pie was prepared by
stuffing the pumpkin with apples, spices and sugar
and then baking it whole.
Many companies produce seasonal pumpkin pie flavored
products such as ice cream, coffee, cheesecake,
pancakes, candy, and beer. Several breweries produce
a seasonal pumpkin ale and the pumpkin spice latte
is one of the most popular seasonal items sold during
the autumn months at Starbucks. Throughout much
of the United States it is tradition to serve pumpkin
pie after Thanksgiving dinner.