The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Pumpkin spice latte at Cafe la Reine. Courtesy photo.

The ubiquity of Pumpkin
A look at fall’s trendiest flavor

By Angie Sykeny

 From cupcakes and ice cream to lattes and beer, pumpkin-lovers have no trouble finding their favorite flavor when fall creeps in. The explosion of pumpkin-flavored everything started as a trend but seems to have evolved into more of a tradition; coffee shops, bakeries and breweries start rolling out their pumpkin-flavored menu items each year as soon as summer starts to wind down, anticipating their customers’ eagerness to get a quintessential taste of fall. 

Local foodies share some theories on why pumpkin is the thing, plus what they have to offer and what goes into making their goodies. We’ve also compiled a long list of where you can go to get your pumpkin fix. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know at
Why pumpkin? 
Richard Tango-Lowy, master chocolatier at Dancing Lion Chocolate in Manchester, has a theory about why pumpkin is so popular and why it seems to have outdone apple as the signature fall flavor. 
“Apples are ubiquitous this time of year. You can’t just grab a pumpkin and take a bite out of it. You have to cut it up and do a lot with it before you can cook with it,” he said, “so pumpkin is more precious in a lot of ways.” 
Roni Vetter, owner of Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream of Nashua, said she can’t understand why people have been neglecting apple and turning to more pumpkin-flavored things, especially since an apple on its own tends to have more flavor than a pumpkin, but she guesses it’s because of the other flavors often used with pumpkin, like nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar that people associate with the overall pumpkin flavor. 
“Pumpkin itself is very bland and boring on its own,” she said. “It’s really the enhancement of the spices that help bring out the natural flavor straight from the pumpkin.”
Of course, it’s possible the spike in popularity of pumpkin could just be part of the natural cycle of foods going in and out of favor. Erik Croswell, owner of Incredibrew in Nashua, said he’s enjoying the craze but won’t be surprised if apple comes to the forefront again. 
“When you look at how flavors trend, variety is the spice of life,” he said. “This year was bad for apples, but they’ll be back around. Pumpkin is just what’s trending right now.” 
In your cup 
Do you want a pumpkin-y pick-me-up in your coffee or tea? Many local cafes have the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte as well as other coffee drinks. 
“Pumpkin latte, pumpkin mocha, pumpkin chai — anything you can combine with pumpkin, we’ll do it,” said Alex Horton, owner of Cafe la Reine in Manchester. 
If you’re not a fan of fancier drinks, some cafes, including Cafe la Reine, also have regular coffee with pumpkin roasted directly into the beans. Horton said it’s very popular among her customers who like to drink their coffee black but still want a taste of fall in their cup. 
Hilltop Cafe is in a unique position when it comes to making their pumpkin lattes. Since they’re located right on Temple-Wilton Community Farm, they’re literally able to source their pumpkins from their backyard. 
To use pumpkin in their lattes, they roast it, blend it with sugar and spices, then mix it in with the espresso, steamed milk and some nutmeg. 
“You can tell the difference. It’s real pumpkin, and it’s fresh, and I think that’s why people like [the lattes],” cafe Manager Ben Reed said. “There’s more texture to it. As finely as we blend the pumpkin, it still adds something to the drink, and that’s augmented by the spices.” 
For even more flavor, you could try the white chocolate pumpkin or salted caramel pumpkin latte at True Brew Barista and Cafe in Concord, or you can add some ice cream with the pumpkin spice affogato from Bonhoeffer’s Cafe in Nashua, made with pumpkin spice ice cream from Hayward’s. 
No matter what kind of drink it is, Horton said, there’s something about the coffee-pumpkin combination that has people always coming back for more. 
“It’s one of our top selling flavors of the year. I feel like the majority of people wait all year for it,” she said. “The warm, rich flavor of the coffee just goes well with the cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin flavor.”
In the past few years, many breweries have been joining the pumpkin craze by producing pumpkin beers. 
Peter Telge, owner and brewmaster at Stark Brewing in Manchester, said Stark’s pumpkin ale was one of the first pumpkin beers when it was first brewed in 1994, and it’s always a big attraction at beer festivals. 
“It’s very well-known and very good, and there’s a reason for it,” he said. “It’s not just that we’re good brewers. It’s the way we do it. … Ninety percent of brewers that do pumpkin ale use a pumpkin pie flavored mix. We use three to four hundred pounds of real pumpkins in every batch we do.” 
Other local breweries followed with their own variations of pumpkin beer, such as 603 Brewery of Londonderry with a toasted pumpkin ale, and Rockingham Brewing of Derry with a pumpkin stout. 
Pumpkin beer fans can even brew their own at Incredibrew. Smashed Pumpkin is based on Shipyard Brewing’s Pumpkinhead beer and features a full-bodied pumpkin undertone with a rush of cinnamon, nutmeg and other holiday spices at the end. 
“I think [pumpkin] goes well with a lot of the wheat flavors and the malt,” Croswell said. “It really complements the pumpkin and lets the pumpkin’s flavor come out.” 
Beer isn’t the only way to enjoy pumpkin with a kick. Zorvino Vineyards makes Jumping Jack’s pumpkin dessert wine from local sugar pumpkins, which Tom Zack, Zorvino wine director, said is one of the few pumpkin wines in the country. 
“It’s made with 100-percent pumpkin but spiced a little bit, so it really tastes like pumpkin pie,” he said. “It’s a great meal closer. Excellent with pumpkin cheesecake or a strong cheese.” 
If beer and wine aren’t your thing, try going out to a local restaurant for a pumpkin martini or cocktail. For example, the Copper Door Restaurant in Bedford has a martini called The Great Pumpkin, made with vanilla vodka, Bols Pumpkin Smash, a splash of cream and a graham cracker rim, and The Peddler’s Daughter in Nashua has a pumpkin pie cocktail made with vanilla vodka, Shipyard Pumpkinhead beer and a cinnamon sugar rim.  
Something sweet 
If you walk into a local bakery, chances are you can find something pumpkin-flavored, whether it’s a sweet treat like whoopie pies, cupcakes and cookies, or maybe something for breakfast, like muffins, bread or bagels. 
“We do a pumpkin cookie with cream cheese frosting and spices on top that’s absolutely delicious,” said Denise Nickerson, owner and baker at The Bakeshop on Kelley Street in Manchester. “And we do pumpkin whoopie pies with a salted caramel filling, and people seem to love that.” 
Many bakers use cupcakes as a versatile food to experiment with different pumpkin flavors. For example, Cupcakes 101 in Bedford has a pumpkin spice latte flavored cupcake (the cake is made with pumpkin and espresso) and a cupcake infused with Shipyard Brewing’s Pumpkinhead ale. Sophisticakes of Windham has cupcakes in pumpkin caramel, pumpkin latte, spiced pumpkin pie and pumpkin Oreo flavors. 
“It’s so popular. It seems like everyone is looking for pumpkin spice things right now,” Nickerson said. “It’s funny how much it just takes over this time of year.” 
Ice cream comes in all flavors imaginable, so it’s no surprise that you can also find pumpkin ice cream this time of year. The Puritan Backroom in Manchester, The Inside Scoop in Bedford and Jay Gee’s Ice Cream in Salem are just some of the local places to get pumpkin ice cream. Some places have creative flavors, like Hayward’s Ice Cream in Nashua with its pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin Oreo. Vetter said she starts getting requests for pumpkin ice cream as early as Sept. 1. 
“I think [pumpkin and ice cream] are amazing together,” she said “The pumpkin flavor just blends nicely with the cream and gives it a velvety texture, and the spices come out really nicely.” 
Vetter purees locally sourced pumpkins for her ice cream and adds spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Many pumpkin ice creams use a synthetic pumpkin flavoring and orange food coloring rather than real pumpkin, she said, but in her opinion, there’s no comparison in taste between the two.   
“[Pumpkin flavoring] is extremely sweet because they’re trying to heighten the desired flavor with more sugar,” she said, “but I find there’s an aftertaste to it, almost like a chemical taste, from the lab-formulated flavor of the pumpkin.” Vetter said.  
You can also find pumpkin incorporated into candy or paired with chocolate, such as the pumpkin caramels dipped in milk chocolate available at Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord and Manchester, and pumpkin bon bons and brownies available at Dancing Lion Chocolate in Manchester. 
“Pumpkin is nice with the type of chocolate we use,” said Tango-Lowy. “The chocolate is not too sweet on its own. … It’s more on the savory side, so it brings out these complex, beautiful flavors with the pumpkin.”
Baked goods & desserts
• Bagel Alley (1 Eldridge St., Nashua, 882-9343, find them on Facebook) has pumpkin bagels.
• The Bakeshop on Kelley Street (171 Kelley St., Manchester, 624-3500, has pumpkin whoopie pies, cookies, cake and swirl cheesecake. 
• Benson’s Bakery & Cafe (203 Central St., Hudson, 718-8683, has pumpkin cupcakes, muffins, scones and whoopie pies. 
• Black Forest Cafe (212 Route 101, Amherst, 672-0500, has pumpkin-maple whoopie pies, pumpkin spice big cookies and praline-frosted pumpkin cupcakes. 
• Bonhoeffers Cafe (8 Franklin St., Nashua, 883-6879, has pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese and gluten-free pumpkin muffins. 
• Cafe la Reine (915 Elm St., Manchester, 232-0332, has pumpkin muffins. 
• The Cake Fairy (114 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, 518-8733, has pumpkin bread, cupcakes and whoopie pies. 
• Cheers Grille & Bar (17 Depot St., Concord, 228-0180, has homemade pumpkin donuts. 
• Chez Vachon (136 Kelley St., Manchester, 625-9660, has pumpkin mousse pie and layered pumpkin cake. 
• Cupcakes 101 (132 Bedford Center Road, Bedford, 488-5962, has cupcakes in four pumpkin flavors: regular pumpkin, pumpkin spice latte (espresso pumpkin), pumpkin whoopie pie (devil’s food cake) and Shipyard Pumpkinhead spice (ale infused).  
• Frederick’s Pastries (109 Route 101A, Amherst, 882-7725; Bedford Square, 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 647-2253, has a pumpkin torte, velvet torte and mocha-pumpkin torte; pumpkin cheesecake, velvet cheesecake, cheesecake cup and caramel-pumpkin spice cheesecake cup; regular pumpkin cake, whoopie pies and a pumpkin velvet cupcake. 
• The Fresh Plate (69 Stearns Road, Amherst, 465-1863, has organic pumpkin yeast bread and organic multigrain bread with pumpkin seed and cranberry. 
• Gone Baking (Bedford, 305-6026, has a pumpkin cupcake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. 
• JajaBelle’s Pastry & Coffee Shop (182 Main St., Nashua, 769-1873, has pumpkin bread. 
• Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream (57 Palm St., Nashua, 594-2424, has pumpkin cake. 
• Kay’s Bakery (443 Lake Ave., Manchester, 625-1132) has pumpkin whoopie pies. 
• Klemm’s Bakery (29 Indian Rock Road, Windham, 437-8810, has pumpkin bread, muffins and donuts. 
• The Newell Post Restaurant (125 Fisherville Road, Concord, 228-0522, has a pumpkin cheesecake.
• New England Cupcakery & Treats (28 S. Main St., Concord, 724-6464, has pumpkin spice cupcakes. 
• Queen City Cupcakes (790 Elm St., Manchester, 624-4999, has cupcakes in pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin spice and pumpkin maple flavors, and a pumpkin spice cookie sandwich. 
• Sophisticakes of Windham (4 Cobbetts Pond Road, No. 6, Windham, 898-2442, has cupcakes in pumpkin-caramel, pumpkin latte, spiced pumpkin pie and pumpkin-Oreo flavors.  
• Village Bean (33 Indian Road Road, Windham, 434-2326, has pumpkin rolls.
Beer & wine 
• 603 Brewery (12 Liberty Drive, Londonderry, 630-7745, does Toasted Pumpkin Ale, available in 22-ounce bottles and on tap. See the website for a list of retailers and restaurants/bars that carry it.
• Able Ebenezer Brewing Co. (31 Columbia Circle, Merrimack, 223-2253, does a harvest pumpkin ale called Homecoming, available on tap at many southern New Hampshire bars and restaurants. See the website for a full list. 
• Incredibrew (112 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, 891-2477, has a brew-your-own Smashed Pumpkin beer. 
• Rockingham Brewing Co. (1 Corporate Park Drive, Unit 1, Derry, 216-2324, does a pumpkin ale called Gourdy and a pumpkin stout called Drunk Pumk, created in collaboration with Tuckaway Tavern. Gourdy is available on tap and in cans. Drunk Pumk is available on tap and in 22-ounce bottles. See the website for a list of retailers and restaurants/bars that carry these beers. 
• Stark Brewing Co. (500 N. Commercial St., Manchester, 625-4444, does Grumpy Pumpkin Ale, available in 12-ounce six-packs, 22-ounce bottles and on tap. See the website for a list of retailers and restaurants/bars that carry it. It also does a blueberry pumpkin pie beer, available only in the taproom. 
• Zorvino Vineyards (226 Main St., Sandown, 887-8463, does Jumping Jack’s Pumpkin Wine. See the website for a list of retailers that carry it.  
Coffee & tea 
• A&E Coffee & Tea (135 Route 101A, Amherst; 1000 Elm St, Manchester, 578-3338, has a pumpkin puree latte.
• Benson’s Bakery & Cafe (203 Central St., Hudson, 718-8683, has pumpkin coffee. 
• Bonhoeffers Cafe (8 Franklin St., Nashua, 883-6879, has a pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin spice affogato and vanilla pumpkin chai.
• Cafe la Reine (915 Elm St., Manchester, 232-0332, has a pumpkin spice latte, coffee, mocha and chai. 
• Coffeeberries (Apple Tree Mall, 4 Orchard View Drive, Londonderry, 434-1030, has a pumpkin spice coffee, latte, mocha and pumpkin chai. 
• Extra Touch Gourmet Cafe (4 Hawthorne Drive, Bedford, 488-6620, has pumpkin coffee. 
• Hilltop Cafe (195 Isaac Frye Hwy., Wilton, 654-2223, has a pumpkin latte. 
• JajaBelle’s Pastry & Coffee Shop (182 Main St., Nashua, 769-1873, has a pumpkin flavor shot for hot drinks. 
• Janie’s Uncommon Cafe (123 Nashua Road, Londonderry, 432-3100, has pumpkin spice coffee. 
• Live Juice (5 S. Main St., Concord, 226-3024, has a pumpkin pie smoothie. 
• Pressed Cafe (108 Spit Brook Road, Nashua, 718-1250, has a pumpkin spice latte. 
• True Brew Barista and Cafe (3 Bicentennial Square, Concord, 225-2776 ; 45 S. Main St., Concord, 715-5833, has lattes in pumpkin spice, white chocolate-pumpkin and salted caramel-pumpkin flavors; and roasted pumpkin mate and decaf sweet pumpkin spice teas.  
• Tucker’s (1328 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 206-5757; 80 South St., Concord, 413-5884, has a pumpkin spiced latte. 
• Two Friends Cafe (542 Mast Road, Goffstown, 627-6622, has pumpkin spice coffee. 
• Unity Cafe (3 Sundial Ave., Manchester, 782-7325, has a pumpkin spice latte. 
• Village Bean (33 Indian Road Road, Windham, 434-2326, has pumpkin spice coffee. 
• Waterworks Cafe (250 Commercial St., Manchester, 782-5088, has a pumpkin spice coffee and latte. 
Ice cream & candy 
• Dancing Lion Chocolate (917 Elm St., Manchester, 625-4043, has pumpkin zen brownies and pumpkin bon bons. 
• Extra Touch Gourmet Cafe (4 Hawthorne Drive, Bedford, 488-6620, has pumpkin caramels.  
• Granite State Candy Shoppe (832 Elm St., Manchester, 218-3885; 13 Warren St., Concord, 225-2591, has pumpkin-flavored caramels dipped in milk chocolate, and ice cream made with a pumpkin fruit base. 
• Hayward’s Ice Cream (7 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, 888-4663, has ice cream flavors in pumpkin, pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin Oreo. 
• The Inside Scoop (260 Wallace Road, Bedford, 471-7009, has pumpkin ice cream. 
• Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream (57 Palm St., Nashua, 594-2424, has pumpkin spice and pumpkin and sweet cream ice cream pies, and regular pumpkin ice cream. 
• Jay Gee’s Ice Cream (327 S. Broadway, Salem, 458-1167, has pumpkin ice cream. 
• Nelson’s Candies (65 Main St., Wilton, 654-5030, has pumpkin and pumpkin-pecan fudge. 
• The Puritan Backroom (245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, has pumpkin ice cream. 
• Village Bean (33 Indian Road Road, Windham, 434-2326, has soft-serve pumpkin ice cream. 
Restaurant dishes & cocktails 
• Bedford Village Inn (2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, 472-2001, has a pumpkin tiramisu. 
• The Birch on Elm (931 Elm St., Manchester, 782-5365, has a pumpkin bisque with apple and ginger and a pumpkin flan with apple cider and caramelized corn. 
• Black Forest Cafe (212 Route 101, Amherst, 672-0500, has pumpkin-pecan pancakes with apple butter praline (Sundays only).  
• Bonhoeffers Cafe (8 Franklin St., Nashua, 883-6879, has homemade pumpkin crepes. 
• Chez Vachon (136 Kelley St., Manchester, 625-9660, has pumpkin pancakes and muffins. 
• The Common Man (25 Water St., Concord, 228-3463; 304 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, 429-3463; 88 Range Road, Windham, 898-0088, has pumpkin tortellacci with apple cider cream, thin-sliced apples and spice pepitas. 
• Copper Door Restaurant (15 Leavy Drive, Bedford, 488-2677, has a pumpkin cupcake and a martini called The Great Pumpkin, made with vanilla vodka, Bols Pumpkin Smash, a splash of cream and a graham cracker rim. 
• Firefly American Bistro & Bar (22 Concord St., Manchester, 935-9740, has a pumpkin spice latte martini. 
• The Foundry Restaurant (50 Commercial St., Manchester, 836-1925, has a roast pumpkin bisque. 
• Gale Motor Co. Eatery (36 Lowell St., Manchester, 232-7059, has a dessert cocktail called The Pumpkin Head, made with pumpkin Baileys and Russell’s Reserve bourbon, shaken over ice.  
• Hanover Street Chophouse (149 Hanover St., Manchester, 644-2467, has pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust, poached cranberries and Chantilly cream, paired with Amaretto Disaronno. 
• The Little Creperie (138 N. Main St., Concord, 856-7807, has a spiced pumpkin waffle with cream cheese glaze. 
• Martha’s Exchange Restaurant & Brewing Co. (185 Main St., Nashua, 883-8781, has a pumpkin martini with Stoli Vanil vodka, Black Velvet Cinnamon Rush whiskey and Martha’s pumpkin mix. 
• The Peddler’s Daughter (48 Main St., Nashua, 821-7535, has a pumpkin pie cocktail made with vanilla vodka, Shipyard Pumpkinhead beer and a cinnamon sugar rim. 
• Red Arrow Diner (61 Lowell St., Manchester, 626-1118; 63 Union Square, Milford, 249-9222; 137 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 552-3091, has peanut butter pumpkin pancakes. 
• Restaurant Tek-Nique (170 Route 101, Bedford, 488-5629, has pumpkin creme brulee. 
• T-Bones (25 S. River Road, Bedford, 641-6100; 39 Crystal Ave., Derry, 434-3200; 77 Lowell Road, Hudson, 882-6677; 311 S. Broadway, Salem, 893-3444, has butternut and pumpkin lasagna, pepita-crusted chicken with pumpkin mashed potato, and pumpkin bread pudding. 
• Tucker’s (1328 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 206-5757; 80 South St., Concord, 413-5884, has pumpkin pancakes. 

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