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.
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.
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.
On the flip …read more