Saturday, Sept. 22, was the autumnal equinox, the official first day of fall. The cooler weather and earlier evenings signal the time is ripe for harvest. Throughout the Rogue Valley, apples are reddening on the trees and pumpkins are swelling on the vine.
Diligent reporters roaming the aisles last weekend at Ashland’s groceries asked the question, “Which do you like better, pumpkins or apples?” After a confused look, a grin or a laugh, these Ashlanders agreed to participate in this weekend’s “Person in the Grocery Store” (much more civilized than man-in-the-street) interviews and choose between a fruit and a vegetable.
Brad Gorham takes a break from stocking the apple shelves at Shop’n Kart and offers his observations on locals’ shopping behavior, gleaned from eight years experience. “People from the West Coast like Galas because they were brought up with Galas, people from the east coast tend to like McIntosh and everyone loves Fuji apples. They’re the most popular and sell the most,” he notes. “Red Delicious doesn’t sell at all.”
The biggest pumpkins generally come in a little later in the fall but everything pumpkin — pies, lattes, beer and scones — is already here.
And the results of this highly unscientific, thorough subjective, slightly silly survey? Apples registered plenty more appeal with a total of nine picks, smashing pumpkins (five picks) by a nearly two-to-one margin. A pair of people waffled, opting for “both,” while another two stuffed both straight in the compost bin, saying “neither.”
Here’s a compilation of what the word is in the aisles:
Beverly and Dana — Apples! They take less preparation. If I get pumpkins I make a pumpkin for Halloween and then I use the pumpkin for a pie.
Greg — For the substance and yumminess, I love pumpkins. I slice them and season them and fry them on both sides with coconut oil.
Jamie and Jack — I like apples. They’re sweet and delicious and you don’t have to cook them before you eat them.
Cathy — I like them both! But I eat them (apples) out of hand, make applesauce, pick them off the trees when they’re ripe.
David — Off the shelf, raw? Apples, because I don’t have to cook them.
Joanne — Apples, they’re sweeter and you have to cook the pumpkins and I use butternut squash instead of pumpkins anyway.
Amy — Apples, cause they’re sweet and you can bite into them and they’re sweet and juicy.
Christian — Well apples have never been my favorite fruit, so pumpkins. My wife made a really good pumpkin soup, but I don’t remember what was in it.
Hannah — Definitely pumpkin because it’s seasonal, something you can enjoy at a very specific time of the year because you can get apples all year long. You eat it (pumpkin), put it in pancakes, coffee, tea. You get their seeds in the oven, you put a little salt on them, bake and they’re a snack
Brad — Apples are little boring if you ask me, I’d rather eat a peach or a nectarine. Apples need a lot of work. I find to make apples interesting, add some fresh lemon and lime juice after you cut them up and have them in a bag. They stay nice and crisp and fresh and visually good looking. I stress the importance of that for when you go on a hike.
Jackie and Atie — They make your teeth big and strong. You can’t put a pumpkin in your bag and take it for a snack. They taste good; I like to eat it. You have to cook it ... you can’t just eat it or you’ll die. Pumpkins are seasonal so I love pumpkin pie, don’t get me wrong, that’s my favorite kind of pie. Apples are crispy, they have to be just right, they have to be cold and crisp. Just a perfect combination of sweet and tart.
Dale — I like pumpkin once or twice a year, but I like apples everyday.
Patience and Braylin — (Patience) I think pumpkin, because Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. Also because at shows you can do a lot of pumpkin things, you can learn how to carve pumpkins, but apples are not as much fun, you can just eat them and pick them but you can’t carve them. (Braylin) Whichever one suits Christmas because that’s my favorite holiday.
Jennifer — I like pumpkins because you can bake the seeds and that’s the best.
Email Ashland freelance writer Maureen Flanagan Battistella at firstname.lastname@example.org.