Where Americans need the most help carving pumpkins

By Christopher Ingraham

Pumpkin carvings of presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are on display at Chelsea Market in New York. (Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

A little more than one-third of Americans told Gallup in 2006 that they “usually” celebrate Halloween by carving a pumpkin. And, if Google search data is to be believed, some of us have a more natural knack for making faces out of orange gourds than others.

Consider the map below. It plots the relative volume of searches for the phrase “how to carve a pumpkin” between 2004 and 2016.

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That phrase is a pretty useful proxy for pumpkin-carving ineptitude: search it yourself, and you can see the top results include how-to’s from the likes of Martha Stewart (“Tip: Prevent exposed areas of the pumpkin’s flesh from turning brown by applying a film of Vaseline”), extremepumpkins.com (“I personally use power tools and extreme techniques, but many of the methods that I use to carve pumpkins apply to anyone”), and the New York Times (“An annual tradition like carving a jack-o’-lantern can become a mindful moment by cultivating what is known as beginner’s mind”).

In other words, people Googling “how to carve a pumpkin” need help with the basic mechanics of the task, like stabbing, cutting and the scooping-out of guts.


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According to Google, the states most lacking in this fundamental knowledge are clustered mostly in the South — Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi all lead the nation in how-to pumpkin carving searches. North Dakota and Hawaii also stand out as places with a relatively high interest in pumpkin tutorials.

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