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Plastic Pumpkin Carving
Status: Real (though the pumpkins are fake)
image The newest thing for Halloween is fake pumpkins. Made out of polyurethane foam, they can be carved just like the real thing. But don't try to eat the seeds. A guy quoted about this issue in the Loudoun Times-Mirror notes that: "There's something wrong with society if people start carving plastic pumpkins." I don't think I have anything to add to that statement. The article also notes that once you've carved your foam pumpkin, it wouldn't be wise to light it up with a candle. You need to use a flashlight.
Categories: Food
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 26, 2005
It's hard to imagine someone wanting one of those, but I guess some people don't like the smell of pumpkins. Same goes for fake Christmas trees.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  02:01 AM
I would, however, wonder if they're easier to carve than real ones, making it easier for kids to join in.
Posted by Boo  in  The Land of the Haggii...  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  05:05 AM
Yah, and it lasts longer and much less messy. I would have liked that when I was a freshman living in the dorms. Of course then you can't cook pumpkin seeds, which is the best part of pumpkin carving.

I carved my real pumpkins 2 nights ago. I made my pumpkin look like my band director because that was the scariest thing I could think of. It has fangs and horns and everything.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  05:09 AM
It's hardly new; the craft stores have been selling these for a few years. You can also buy various electric candles specially designed for them (or an easy solution to a real pumpkin), and pumpkins already "carved" with plug-in lights inside.

A regular pumpkin will go the way of compost in about a week, unless you spray it with a bleach solution. I think its ephemeral vegetable nature is part of the point of a jack o'lantern, though.

I tried to carve the more historical turnip some years back, but it was not a success.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  07:59 AM
No, they're not new. But I just found out about them yesterday.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  10:05 AM
A sensible piece of advice is to put torches/flashlights in vegetable jack o'lanterns too! Even a candle can give off a fair amount of heat, and it is possible to get very painful purns from a hot pumpkin. Certainly the RoSPA (Royal Society for the PRevention of Accidents) always used to recommend the use of torches rather than candles.
Posted by John Wilson  in  UK  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  12:50 PM
I'd prefer a real pumpkin to a plastic one, simply on the biodegradability question. I'm sure a lot of families are tossing the used plastic ones in the trash and getting new ones each year for new designs.
Posted by Yvonne  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  01:04 PM
Fake pumpkins suck. Flashlights in pumpkins suck. A candle -or two- gives a nice flickery effect. A flashlight just looks like a flashlight.
As for I have encountered a jack 0'lantern where the candle had fallen over and continued to burn for quite some time-the inside charred a bit-but did not burn. Yeah it can get hot, but come on-just use a tiny bit of care and there is no problem.
Posted by rkh  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  04:03 PM
Didn't mean to cast aspersions on you, Alex -- that news article was very gushy and implied 'new' so I mentioned it.

The cheapest pre-cut ones are selling for around $5 at K-Mart, but they don't look very realistic, because the holes aren't perpendicular to the surface. More of a beveled effect.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Thu Oct 27, 2005  at  08:14 PM
An aquaintance of mine asked me last year if I would either carve the fake pumpkin for her,lend her some stencils, or give her some ideas.
She's the manager of my local pub, so the convenience of having a pre-carved, non-rotting Jack O'Lantern was pretty appealing to her. The cost-saving aspect was pretty appealing to the bar owner.
Posted by Liz  on  Fri Oct 28, 2005  at  12:24 AM
There is something about a plastic pumpkin that sucks, but at least they don't wither after a day. I can see how they'd be especially nice to have in a pub or something. Still, when it comes down to it, there's no replacing the real thing.
Posted by Reynard Muldrake  on  Fri Oct 28, 2005  at  08:26 PM
I think they're kind of cool if you're letting you kid carve one each year, and you can write the date on the bottom and keep them...then you have one for each year that you can put out and accumulate them...I think they would be a cool keepsake...of course, I'd want some real ones too
Posted by Suzi  in  california  on  Sat Oct 29, 2005  at  02:25 PM
Most of the fun of making a Jack-o-Lantern is that you're carving it out of a real vegetable. Plastic foam has been around for a long time, but it just isn't the same.

cvirtue, I've been tempted to try doing one from a turnip (as the Celts did before pumpkins were imported from America). You say it didn't work?
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Sat Oct 29, 2005  at  06:28 PM
Turnip: you pretty much need power tools to do it. a pumpkin is easy, since it's got the rind which has a clear boundary, and then the pulp inside is simple to scoop out. A raw turnip is much harder and denser than a pumpkin rind/shell. Go ahead -- you may find a technique which works; and they're not very expensive, after all.
Posted by cvirtue  in  deleted  on  Sun Oct 30, 2005  at  07:41 PM
the sad thing is that my dad bought one of these for me (and then wondered why I didn't carve it besides the fact I was busy)

I prefer the real thing FOR the flickering firelight effect that it holds. It's not the same with artificial light...
Posted by Mera  on  Sat Nov 05, 2005  at  09:24 AM
I have decided to go with fake pumpkins this year. We live really close to the beach and last year I spent a lot of time carving a really elaborate, detailed pumpkin. The wet air got to it and it was a moldy mess in three days flat. It didn't even make it to Halloween.

While I appreciate the tradition of a real pumpkin, I feel bad just chucking them every year into the garbage. I'll be able to use my fake ones year after year. And it makes a pumpkin carving party much neater - no guts everywhere.
Posted by Sarah  on  Thu Oct 12, 2006  at  01:03 PM
I never thought I would go for fake pumpkins, as I love nature and enjoy the variations that real pumpkins have. The flat spots where it was on the ground, looking for "the perfect pumpkin", and coming up with new designs each year were part of the fall season. However, last year I was carving pumpkins when my arms, chest, hands, and anywhere that pumpkin touched me began to burn and itch. Within seconds I had broken out in hives from head to toe! Apparently I had developed an allergy to pumpkins, and I couldn't carve them any more. While I was busy trying to get my allergies under control, I was NOT missing putting some pumpkins out for the fall. I decided to get some fake pumpkins to carve, which I must admit was not as exciting as looking for pumpkins in a patch. After all, there are only a few varieties on the pumpkins, either short and fat or tall and skinny for the most part, and my pumpkins would look like everyone else's who bought fake pumpkins. We had a nice display, though, and I didn't have allergies. They're also mess free and last longer, and we can put them back out year after year.
Posted by N  in  US  on  Tue Aug 07, 2007  at  01:10 AM
Some people like myself decorate their houses with themed scares for the kids. Plastic carved pumpkins serve a great purpose for me... I can carve whatever I want in my pumpkin patch and the "props" are good forever. Lighting them with a flicker light bulb is easy as pie, and now I have a great pumpkin patch of original designs for years to come. So there are justified reasons behind that. ALSO using the pumpkins solid add as easy props for me that is a one time buy, instead of a pricey overhead cost every year.
Posted by jay  in  new york  on  Wed Sep 19, 2007  at  03:40 PM
I happen to love carving a real pumpkin but the plastic ones last longer I live in florida and sometimes from the humidity the pumpkin won't last for more then two days before rotting or slightly sinking in on itself plus the fake one only costs me $5 as for a real one costs me $15 or more depending on the quality and size of the pumpkin. I nanny for a family and I love these for children I make small holes in the pumpkin to start them off but they can handle the rest -they are 6 and 7 years of age and Sara hates touching the inner parts of a pumpkin so I use to get stuck cleaning them. As for the families that toss theirs I don't agree they are foam and aren't great for the environment but I have used them for two years now and I have kept all of them adding to them every year
Posted by feefee  on  Thu Oct 11, 2007  at  03:08 PM
I just bought a fake pumpkin as a wedding gift for a friend. She's getting married on Halloween, and I'll be carving a bride and groom into the pumpkin. Now, they can light it up each year for their anniversary. And...we use a fake tree because my husband has a violent allergic reaction (lungs don't want to work) when he is around cut conifers. So...I kind of like him better alive.
Posted by friend of the bride  in  California  on  Mon Oct 22, 2007  at  05:25 PM
These also are very useful for artists who spend hours and hours on their pumpkins. http://www.carvingpumpkins.com/newqna/viewtopic.php?t=3733
is one example.
Posted by shroomy  in  Utah  on  Mon Oct 22, 2007  at  05:32 PM
I am wondering how the tool works for carving the plastic or foam pumpkins and what it is called exactly. They aren't sold this time of year at Michael's so I want to find one on line. The hotknife it what I thought it was called but they sell for pretty high. I wanted to use the knife to cut foam board for VBS decorations. Anyone know?
Posted by penny  in  Edina, MN  on  Sun Apr 13, 2008  at  04:02 PM
I just put up a full step by step tutor with pix on how to carve a foam pumpkin. on my website http://www.stoneykins.com. there's also 600+ unique carving patterns. Check it out.
Posted by St0ney  in  Philly  on  Tue Jul 15, 2008  at  09:46 AM
I just bought one of these flashlights to illuminate this years pumpkin.

Fenix LD20

I hate leaving candles burning in the house with my daughter around so this seems like a safer option.
Posted by Charles Weir  in  Surrey, England  on  Fri Oct 17, 2008  at  06:39 AM
I can not believe that someone would want to take all the fun out of Halloween. Fake pumpkins LOL You need the real ones. Carving a pumpkin is a Halloween tradition. What will they think of next? Fake fireworks for the 4th. LOL
Posted by Halloween Ideas  in  South Dakota  on  Mon Sep 06, 2010  at  04:41 PM
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