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Pumpkins, Worms and Skulls, Oh My: America’s Autumn Food

At this time of year, America seems to go pumpkin-mad! From pie to lattes and everything in-between, the sweet orange squash cannot be escaped. Apples, candy corn, and scary treats also crop up everywhere as the American food-focused holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving draw closer. If you’re planning an autumn holiday to Florida, Disney’s Epcot in Orlando, Florida, even hosts the International Food and Wine Festival this month!

Here are some of the best foods to find in the US in the autumn:

Pumpkin Crazy!

Pumpkin butter and pumpkin beer

Pumpkin pie might seem strange, but its rich custard flavour with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves makes it an American classic – and Starbucks’ cult favourite pumpkin latte has finally made its way to British shores. If you’re travelling to the US this autumn, be prepared for a total landslide of pumpkin foods, including:

Pumpkin Brownies – Pumpkin puree and spices are mixed with Philadelphia cheese and marbled with traditional chocolate batter.

Pumpkin Jam – “Pumpkin butter” is just pumpkin jam, with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. It tastes like mulled apple cider with faint custard undertones – delicious on toast with butter.

Pumpkin Beer – Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Although in many cases, “pumpkin” ale just means “cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg” ale!

Halloween Favourites

Candy corn and gummy worms

Candy Corn – This chewy vanilla fudge comes in the shape of corn kernels or wee pumpkins.

Worms and Dirt – Don’t be squeamish, as this family favourite is just gummy worms, chocolate cake and chocolate pudding.

Dia de los Muertos

This major Mexican holiday on 1 November is a colourful celebration of the Catholic All Souls’ Day, when the souls of the dead are welcomed back for one night. Altars are set up with marigolds and the deceased person’s favourite foods and posessions, and the day takes a very warm, positive and funny approach to death compared to Halloween’s horror. Dia de los Muertos parades are held in cities across the USA, particularly along the Mexican border.

Calaveras and Pan de Muertos

Calaveras (sugar skulls) – These sweet treats are sold in bakeries this time of year, and the decorative skulls are an icon of the holiday.

Pan de Muerto (bread of the dead) – This sweet brioche is cooked round, or in the shape of a skull, and topped with sugar and decorations.

What’s in Season in Florida?

Other than pumpkins, America’s other famous obsession is peanuts and peanut butter – the Annual Central Florida Peanut Festival is held the first Saturday of October each year. Don’t miss out on the crowning of Queen Peanut & Baby Peanut!

Mr. Peanut

October is stone crab season in Florida, and Stone Crab festivals and eating contests are held in coastal towns up and down the state.

Tropical fruits like avocados, bananas and guavas are in full flush in October, as are early citrus fruits like Oranges and Mandarins. Key limes are in season in late autumn, making it prime time for local specialty key lime pie.

If you fancy trying some pumpkin stout, candy corn, sugar skulls or avocados fresh from the tree, autumn is a great time to visit the US – particularly areas like Florida which are still warm at this time of year, and Orlando and Miami enjoy an average October temperature of 30 degrees!

Photos, top to bottom: Sugar skulls by navart, pumpkin butter by snowpea&bokchoi, pumpkin beer by blakespot, candy corn by Juushika Redgrave, gummy worms by Oh! Nuts, calaveras by Glen, pan de muerto by zerethv, peanut on parade in Georgia by the Georgia Peanut Commission.