Sweetbay Supermarkets offer pink pumpkins

nwilliams@bradenton.comSeptember 29, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Certain colors are associated with holidays. There's green for St. Patrick's Day, red for Valentine's Day, and red and green for Christmas. But where does pink fit in?

According to Sweetbay Supermarket, a Florida-based grocer, it's the month of October. Just in time for Halloween and October Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Sweetbay is offering pink pumpkins through Oct. 31 at all of its 105 Sweetbay locations in Florida. The pumpkins are $6.99, a dollar less than the typical and larger orange pumpkins.

Jason Hall, store manager at the Sweetbay at 5808 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton, said shoppers have been buying the pale, odd-shaped pumpkins.

"They're intrigued by the color," he said.

This is the first fall harvest of pink pumpkins, a variety known as Porcelain Doll F1 and created by DP Seeds. The pumpkins feature a pale pink skin with orange flesh.

"We're constantly looking for new items in our stores," said Nicole Le Beau, spokesperson for Sweetbay, which is the only grocery store chain selling the brand. "It's unique, it's quirky and it's fun."

And it's edible.

A portion of sales will go toward the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation, whose members include representatives of DP Seeds and American pumpkin growers. The proceeds will help fund breast cancer research.

Some in the agricultural industry say designer fruits and vegetables are becoming more common.

"There's definitely a market for designer fruits and veggies with odd colors, textures and shapes, so you'll see items like purple cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli, but many of them are natural varieties of the typical fruits and veggies we are accustomed to," said Marina D'Abreau, executive director of the University of Florida IFAS extension office in Manatee.

At Disney World'sEPCOT center, D'Abreau said fruits like watermelon are grown in square or rectangular shapes.

"There is a push for these varieties among the public that seems to go along with the push for locally grown foods," said Crystal Snodgrass, vegetable agent for Manatee's IFAS

extension. "Many of these varieties are produced and sold locally because they do not have a long shelf life and cannot be shipped long distances or the demand may not be there for large quantities."

Sweetbay is hoping buyers will pick up the vegetable to use as a decorative item for Halloween.

"We felt this would be a unique item to add to the kitchen table in time for Halloween," Le Beau said.

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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