Brad Sherwood, Punkin Chunkin
Do you like smashing pumpkins? Not the band, but the actual act — or more like launching a pumpkin thousands of feet into the air and watching it smash. If you do, then Punkin Chunkin (Thursday at 9 pm/ET, Science Channel) is the show — and event — for you, especially as you're finishing off that slice of pumpkin pie.
"It is basically a [special] about backyard engineers who create catapults, air cannons and trebuchets to try to launch 8-pound pumpkins across the field as far as they can," host Brad Sherwood, a former panelist on Whose Line is it Anyway?, told TVGuide.com.
Sound absurd? Maybe. But Punkin Chunkin is an affair deeply rooted in tradition and pride. Half ingenuity and half childhood demolition fantasy, the Delaware-born annual competition has featured gourd-hurling for 15 years just for the hell of it — there's no prize money, just a trophy. "It's just grown over the years," Sherwood said. "Pretty much every year, someone comes out to the competition, sees it, falls in love with it and starts building a contraption. People get obsessed with the fun of watching pumpkins fly and figuring out the science of making it work."
The one-hour special will showcase chunk-ers new and old, crafty and not-so-crafty as they assemble, fine-tune, practice and compete with their lofty machines. Teams range from kids to multiple-degree-touting engineers. Creations vary from scrap parts fashioned in the garage to devices so large and looming, they must be driven to the open field in parts. The hefty sizes are partly why Punkin Chunkin hasn't rippled into a nationwide phenomenon outside the East Coast yet, Sherwood said.
"I totally see how exciting it is to do this," Sherwood said. "Some of these teams let me fire off cannons. It's like hitting a golf ball on the driving range or hitting a baseball. When you connect, you have that great shot that just goes so far. It's that same adrenaline rush, that energy surge. It's kinda the same thing when that pumpkin fires out and you know you made the perfect shot."
The waxing nostalgic is not for naught. Sherwood would "absolutely" participate in the high-flying science experiment.
"I'm actually gonna try to start the whole west coast contingent," he said. "East Coast, West Coast Punkin rivalry — like Biggie and Tupac."