Throwback of the House: Holiday Binging with Weight Watchers' Maine Pumpkin Pudding


Who did Weight Watchers in the 1980s? I did, in 1985, when I was 13 years old. Yes, that's insane. I was a little chubby, but I probably would have run it off while playing softball.

I did lose weight. It lasted until about a week after I stopped the program. Having read 1977's 400-page hardcover tome, Weight Watchers International Recipes, I've gained an understanding of why the weight came back: When you eat nothing but horrible shit for a year, you go a little nuts when real food comes back.

  • Robin Wheeler
With all the fretting about holiday foods and weight gain, I gave the old Weight Watchers another try with Maine Pumpkin Pudding.

Dissolve unflavored gelatin in a blender. Add puréed pumpkin, nonfat dry milk, pumpkin pie spice, artificial maple flavoring and artificial sweetener. Blend until mixed, then add six ice cubes.

Is there anything more festive than a gelatin pumpkin smoothie? It's how the weight-conscious early settlers in Maine celebrated a successful harvest. All Maine residents have fake maple fluid on hand.

Speaking of having artificial maple flavoring on hand, I put a bit on my finger to taste it. It's rubbing alcohol with a drop of Golden Griddle.

But the smell...

  • Robin Wheeler
It's been over twelve hours, multiple hand-washings and a shower since I put the junk on my finger and I can't make the smell go away.

If you see a fat woman wandering confused, sniffing her finger obsessively and muttering, "Why? Why?", please be kind.

  • Robin Wheeler
While I was making the pudding, I didn't understand the need for gelatin and ice cubes. It's science! The ice makes the gelatin firm quickly, which is important when you're in a calorie-starved rampage and need dessert now. Alas, the pudding just makes things worse. The good parts -- pumpkin and spice -- are dulled by the cold and overpowered by the bitterness of the artificial sweetener and "Mape-L."

You'd be better off sprinkling pie spice on pumpkin purée and leaving well enough alone. Because the human body, when presented with fake sweeteners, gets chimp-style angry when real sugar doesn't hit the bloodstream.

To counteract three bites of the pudding, I ate a handful of candy from my kid's Halloween stash.

This is why I am not a Weight Watchers success story.

Robin Wheeler writes the blog Poppy Mom and is a regular contributor to Gut Check. After years of making and eating fancy food, Robin is sick of it all. She's returning to the basics: recipes that haven't surfaced in three decades. She reports on the results every Monday.