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.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.