Since 1999, the Ackerman family of Illinois has been selling the round orange pumpkins that most Americans carve into decorative jack-o’-lanterns every Halloween. But in recent years, the gourds have been getting a lot weirder.
That’s by design. While plenty of customers still buy the traditional-looking pumpkins at this time of year, demand has surged for ones with different colors, shapes and deformities -- like all pink or white with red veins or covered in bulbous warts. The Ackermans now sell 160 different varieties, according to John Ackerman, who planted a few blue pumpkins on a whim 16 years ago hoping to expand the income from the livestock, corn and soybean operations that have been in his family since 1909.