While your immediate mental picture may be Cinderella’s carriage, technically, any thick-skinned squash counts as a pumpkin. This means there are actually hundreds of different varieties, though all of them fit into three scientific categories — Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita pepo — and you’ll want to stick to specifically bred jack o’lantern pumpkins when it comes to carving (try to engrave a grin on a pie pumpkin, and the super hard flesh and excess amount of guts may not make you so happy).
Everything else is fair game for eating, and affords multiple possibilities in both cooking and baking. Not to mention, pumpkin (on its own, not turned into pie) is relatively low in calories and an excellent source of fiber, potassium, beta-carotene, and Vitamins C and A. Wondering about the canned stuff? That’s just puree. And the truth behind The Great Pumpkin? Still up for debate.