In Spain, they have the annual tomato fight known as La Tomatina, which, despite its more refined-sounding title, involves people throwing tomatoes at each other for the fun of it.
Then, there’s Greece’s Clean Monday Flour War, otherwise known as Alevromoutzouroma — slips right off the tongue, doesn’t it? —in which people hurl bags of colored flour at each other. And in Italy they have the Battle of the Oranges, or Battaglia delle Arancem.
The latter, for those who are eager for additional information, is more of a strategic contest than it is a hit-or-miss fruit-flinging free-for-all.
This is even though it still comes down to teams of people saying, “Hey, signore, you can Sunkist my …” and then throwing oranges at them.
The sad fact is, despite the United States’ status as a world leader in most areas, we have fallen behind other nations when it comes to ballistic fruits and vegetables.
Even the well-respected and always entertaining potato cannon, or spud missile, did not originate here.
It was invented at the end of World War II by the British, who assumed, apparently, that tactical tubers might prove vital should another global mash-up occur.
All of the aforementioned explains why Punkin Chunkin is a matter of strategic importance and national pride to the USA.
It is our own thing and it serves an important purpose: a pumpkin shot from an air cannon or launched from a catapult is one less pumpkin someone will try to eat straight.
In my mind, the best thing anyone can do with a pumpkin is to carve it up for Halloween or shoot it into the air.
Anyone who disagrees hasn’t tried eating pumpkin pie without the spice, or has and also really likes the taste and texture of library paste.
This does not count little kids who won’ttheir eat spinach, but will eat school paste in a minute because … no one really knows why they do it or why, if it’s so good, we don’t see it on more menus.
Growing up on the Eastern Shore, which is not the same thing — pay attention, people — as “Delmarva” or the Delmarva Peninsula, a term routinely employed by car dealers, local television stations, the poultry industry and a host of people who have no idea what it is or means, I do know something about pumpkins.
In fact, in rural Caroline County, where I grew up, we tried to establish a fundraiser using pumpkins, after our Soybean Queen Gala fell out of favor with the moneyed set.
For whatever reason, however, our “Pumpkins for Bumpkins” failed to resonate with the public.
Punkin Chunkin, on the other hand, not only sounds appropriate, it is the right thing to do for otherwise neglected pumpkins that long for their moment in the sun, however brief that moment might be.
Come to think of it, if the Ocean City inlet parking lot Punkin Chunkin idea doesn’t fly, I can offer one other possibility: Can you say Special Event Zone enforcement?