The Great Gloucester Pumpkin Expedition

September 29, 2022 / A Local Favorite, Art and Music, Food and Drink, Good to Know, Local Characters, Things to Do & See, Uncategorized

The Great Gloucester Pumpkin Expedition | Kathleen Williams

Several millennia before Samuel de Champlain tossed his anchor into Le Beau Port, and before Captain John Smith figured out how to spell “Tragabigzanda,” there were…pumpkins. In fact, scientists estimate that pumpkins have been around for more than 9,000 years, or slightly longer than it takes the cut bridge to go up and down in the summer. Pumpkins were a staple in Native American cultures and an instant success with early settlers.

Every bit of the pumpkin is edible – the flowers, flesh, skin, and seeds. It’s all good and it’s all good for you. Pumpkins are inexpensive, low in calories, and chock full of good things like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron, potassium, and folate. They’ve got plenty of beta carotene, they’re good support for your immune system, your heart, eyes, and skin, they inhibit certain cancers, and they are important enough to have their own day – National Pumpkin Day is October 26. Please don’t forget to send me a card.

In 2018, a New Hampshire man made national news by growing a pumpkin that weighed a colossal 2,528 pounds, and purported to be the largest pumpkin in North American history. While it missed the Guinness World Record by a measly 96 pounds, rumor has it that he hollowed it out and rented it as an auxiliary dwelling unit.

And now it’s official. Merriam-Webster just added “pumpkin spice” to the latest edition of their dictionary. It’s on page 427 which smells faintly of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. 

Photo: The Cave by Kendra Dott

But is there a downside to pumpkins? Take it from me, they are incredibly uncomfortable to wear. I haven’t encountered any pumpkin scented hair products or I would have been the first to try them. 

So hop into your finest four-wheeled carriage and check out all the ways that local foodies serve up this amazing super food. The perfect place to start is right on Main Street in Gloucester:

-Pick up a jar of pumpkin butter at The Cave. Just about everything is better with butter on it. So Keep Calm and Spread It On!

Photo from Cape Ann Olive Oil by Kendra Dott

-For all you do-it-yourselfers, The Cape Ann Olive Oil Company offers up a pumpkin bread mix. And remember, stirring is considered an aerobic activity so add this to your fitness log.         

-We hit the jackpot at Caffé Sicilia where they make their own pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pudding, and pumpkin cookies. How do you say, “Gimme some of that,” in Italian? Looks like I’m going to have to try each one of these – research is a very important part of my job.

-The pumpkin’s first cousin is the squash and Pastaio Via Corta makes a superb squash pasta. This is perfect for those nights when boiling water is my version of gourmet cooking.

– Castaways Vintage Café mixes up a scoop of pumpkin in their unbelievable “Spice Up Your Life” smoothie. When I saw one of those beauties coming across the counter for me, my eyes nearly popped out. I couldn’t figure out whether to eat it with a straw, spoon, knife and fork, or chopsticks. In case you didn’t bring any cutlery with you, try their fragrant pumpkin spice latte – no instructions needed and you will not be disappointed.

– You might find a line at Turtle Alley Chocolates once word gets out about their pumpkin peanut butter cups surrounded with dark chocolate. Shut the front door! They come in a package of two and I had already consumed the first one by the time the nice person behind the counter offered me a bag. “But why would I need a bag?” I asked as I finished the second one. And BTW, dark chocolate is a good source of fiber and it can even lower your blood pressure. So add these little gems to your list of health food options.

– Further down the road the Azorean’s menu features a chicken and squash ravioli. It’s kind of like putting everything you need for dinner into gorgeous little tasty packages.

– A quick road trip to Manchester-By-The-Sea will reward you with a squash pizza from Bravo By The Sea.

– And on your way home pick up your very own Great Pumpkin at Marshall’s Farm Stand.


If cities had middle names, Gloucester’s would be “creativity.” Gloucester’s mixologists (that’s a fancy term for bartender) have applied their creative touch to some of our most popular beverages and elevated them to a new artform. In the interest of research, naturally, I felt obligated to visit a few local establishments to investigate how the pumpkin has made its way into the classic White Russian, and cervisia (that’s what the Romans called their brewskies). And remember, always have a designated driver with you because I really can’t come to pick you up. 

George’s Restaurant and Bar makes a White Russian with Van Gogh Dutch Caramel Vodka, Kahlua, Stoli Vanilla, Pumpkin Real, milk, nutmeg, and whipped cream.

And the Seaport Grille mixes up their Pumpkin Spice White Russian with Crop Organic Vodka Spiced Pumpkin, Baileys Vanilla, Kahlua, whipped cream, and pumpkin spice.

Both the Beauport’s 1606 Restaurant and the Seaport Grille serve Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale. But the 1606 rims their glasses with sugar and cinnamon, while the Seaport Grille goes for caramel and cinnamon. You’ve got options.

No matter how you get your vitamins, Gloucester has something for everyone when it comes to the ubiquitous pumpkin. So do what Samuel de Champlain and Captain John Smith did best – EXPLORE! And be sure to get home by midnight. You never know when one of those fine carriages might just turn into a…pumpkin!

Kathleen Williams lives in Gloucester. She’s at work on a collection of humorous flash fiction pieces called “The Adventures of Ephelides Dogbar And Other Preposterous Disquisitions From Tragabigzanda.” She’ll read her work at the Gloucester Writers Center on November 17, with fellow Cape Ann Writer Joseph Rukeyser.

Click here for more ideas for your fall trip to Gloucester.