Carving pumpkins for Halloween can be a major and messy undertaking, but once I get started, I become a bit obsessed and want to hack hideous faces and spooky designs into everything I can get my hands on. Beware, produce section! I'm coming for you...

  1. Sweet Potato You simply have to see the severed hand created by Vanilla & Spice- it has bloody claws!
  2. Zucchini I spent the summer engaged in amicable battle with our zucchini patch, but it never occurred to me to carve one of the monstrous suckers. Fortunately, it occurred to Zogdo, who made this amazing alligator. Zucchinis are apparently ideal for carving: "They don’t stink, they aren’t sticky or messy, and they have a ton of firm flesh and only a small center of seeds."
  3. Butternut Squash Flickry user G.P. Macklin carved this butternut squash skull- this is obviously what butternut squashes have been intended for all along!
  4. Watermelon I have a lot more to say about Halloween watermelons, but here's a favorite from the always-amazing Zogdo. The red and green of the watermelon are used to their fullest potential- genius. And horrifying.
  5. Turnip I first became interested in pumpkin-carving alternatives while researching a piece on Räebelichtli Umzug (turnip lantern festivals) for KCET. There are plenty of very, very pretty turnip lanterns out there, but this turnip ghoul by Camera Obscura is absolutely perfect for Halloween. I love the way it makes the most of the turnip's root-ness, hairs and all (I know they're not hairs).
  6. Banana Well, you can't stick a candle in a banana, but this Creepy Banana by Deviant Art user SN2 would be fun to slip into someone's lunch box. Instead of cutting out the shapes, you could just trace them in the peel with a sharp-edge so the lines darken by lunchtime.
  7. Apple ThinkToPlay made adorably teeny jack-o-lanterns using apples, a melon baller, and battery-operated tea lights.
  8. Potato And we're back to where it all began: according to Mother Nature Network, which featured this photo from Wikimedia Commons, jack-o-lanterns originated in Ireland, where they were carved from turnips (above) or potatoes. "When the Irish began immigrating to the United States, they discovered pumpkins and saw how much easier they were to carve."