This Halloween, Watch Pumpkins Get Blown Up in the Name of Physics

Chunking at Daisi Hill Farms in Millerton, N.Y. Photo by Wendy Carlson for The New York Times.

Beyond the history of The Tootsie Roll, we are also fascinated by the story from Friday’s Times — delightfully called “Smashing Pumpkins, the Halloween Rage” — about pumpkin chunking. Or hurling pumpkins with air cannons or 20-foot catapults. The New York Hall of Science in Queens will do exactly that on Saturday and Sunday from 1-3 pm as part of Catapult Month.

The Times reports one of the ways chunking got started — beyond boys just being boys, even when they are men, that is — was because local small but mainstream farmers are constantly trying to find a way to support themselves as the price they can get for their crops is squeezed by wholesale buyers or customers who balk at paying 50 cents per apple even when the labor that went into the apple is worth $1.

Most farms that grow one crop in bulk — apples, corn, pumpkins — do things like corn maizes or U-pick open houses, complete with hayrides and cider doughnuts (check our recent article on Upstate apple picking here). But chunking is apparently a new way to monetize. The Times quotes Donald Totman of Daisi Hill Farm in Millerton, N.Y., who started off with a homemade catapult 13 years ago and has since moved on to an air cannon, as saying, “We’re doing the entertainment to sell the pumpkins.”

The Queens Musuem, meanwhile, is “doing the entertainment” to explain a few theories of physics. We, on the other hand, have no problem admitting we are going just watch them blow the hell out of some pumpkins. Course we’re hoping they bought local, and we’re happy to tote home the remains for some soup, too.

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