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"Punkin Chunkin" is the ninth episode from Season 3 of Modern Family, it aired on November 23, 2011.

Plot Summary

Phil is upset that Claire is stifling his creativity. Mitchell doesn't believe Cam's "pumpkin chunkin" story. Gloria won't let Jay tell Manny that his Thanksgiving centerpiece is horrible. Haley and Alex dent Claire's car and will stop at nothing to hide it from her.

Episode Description

Phil receives a call from his old kid neighbor, Kenneth. Phil is thrilled to invite him over, but Claire hardly approves. When he arrives, he is a bloated up, shabbily dressed jovial character, whom Claire finds at least a bit repulsive. He exclaims "ten years" and hugs both of them so tightly, that Claire is shocked. He does it again and then follows it up with "manshake" with Phil as Claire moves with coffee wearing disapproving expressions. Later, Mitchell and Cameron are chatting up their friends on the lawn. While Cameron has a joke he hopes will cause great laughter, it ends up a flop. Mitchell is quick to make a mild taunt, angering Cameron visibly. Manny has made a centerpiece craft for Thanksgiving, which his mother Gloria cannot stop praising, However, her husband Jay has a problem with her for not showing Manny a little bit of reality. Gloria argues that criticism can be damaging for kids. She is a jumble of insecurities because her mother criticized her all the time. Jay explains in Manny's case, he will thank her for criticism one day. Then she asks Jay if his children have thanked him… He says No, but it's coming.

Kenneth and Phil get chatting. Kenneth announces that college did not work for him, and he ended up washing dishes in New Mexico. Claire gets her opportunity for a bout and lays in sarcastically. However, he gives her a cheeky butt hug and then announces he later hooked up with his roommate to start a tech wave ride. He has been into making video games, gadgets, and is now in town to purchase a blimp. Haley wants to know more about him, but Claire announces they are going out. However, Luke and Phil remain chatting with him. Haley and Alex are out driving. When Alex shows her who Kenneth really is on the internet, she claims she is wearing a bra of his brand. Then she is distracted enough to bend over and check the screen on Alex's cell phone. She bangs the car into a trash can denting the front door. Back at home, Alex is tense, but Haley wants to know if she is going to come out of the room at all. Alex cannot think of a decent alibi to tell Claire regarding the accident, and all Haley has is lies that Alex disapproves.

Luke has a playful time with Phil, as he arranges dining tables for Thanksgiving. He claims Kenneth's inspiration drove him to such perfection. Meanwhile, Jay and Gloria are cooking. When Manny tastes a little, he complains that it seems too bland. A little later, Gloria turns him out, but Jay wants to make his point. He insists upon listening to Manny’s criticism because it will help him get better. However, when Gloria argues vehemently, Manny is quick to realize this is about her and her mother. After a bout with Claire on his plans and success, Phil sets forth to make a video of his special helmet, which can massage the head and stop it from itching. Claire wants a long table arrangement. Phil argues that Kenneth can do all the tycoon like things because of Phil's inspiration, and the only thing that stops him from getting his trillion is Claire's discouragement. When she says "I love you, but…", Phil rebukes back, saying that he is growing tired of her "but", and walks away. Claire is exasperated.

Later, Jay, Gloria and her son Manny arrive. While Alex is struggling to cover the dent on the car door, Haley manages to make everything look normal. However, on the way inside, Jay has already admitted to Manny that his centerpiece is a "swing and a miss". When he confirms whether Manny is able to take that, he surely can. Inside the house, Phil and Cameron are supportive of Manny's work, but he dumps it saying it has not worked. Although not entirely sulky, Manny gets mollycoddled by Gloria, and she gets into a fight with Jay after Manny says why he felt it wasn't that great. Phil is quick to heal Manny up and argues that the criticism should not make him shy away from the trillions of dollars he might win someday. Claire is quick to challenge Phil to show his new head-scratching helmet. He is quick to give a demo, but it snaps and starts exfoliating. Luke helps him but struggles in the attempt of taking it off Phil's head. Cameron butts in - want to know how many of them present have heard his pumpkin story - Claire claims a number of times - as all of them say they have. Then he asks them how many do not believe it.

It turns out that Jay, Claire, and a few others do not believe it. At the same time, Phil, who is busy with the helmet with Luke, is unable to move, and Gloria says she believes it. When they are stomping out to the field to check if Cameron's story is believable, Claire is livid - the food is served, and they must have some respect for it. Phil is quick to butt in saying the turkey smells like chicken, to which Claire pushes back her chair and insists they get back to the pumpkin story test. At the field, they fail at first but succeed the second time. The third shot makes a huge dent in Claire's car, exactly after Alex confesses about the one made by Haley.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett (no cues)

Guest Starring


  • This is Modern Family's first Thanksgiving episode.
  • Lily appears but has no lines. Also, this is the first time that a character named Andy appears in this episode. Though it's not Andy Bailey who does not appear until later in the series.
  • This episode marks Kenneth's first appearance. He does not reappear until season 11’s Dead On A Rival.
  • Manny states surviving Hurricane Katrina which implied that he lived in New Orleans.
  • Luke is glad that he does not have to sit next to Lily as he doesn’t like the way she chews. She says a similar thing about him in season 11’s The Last Christmas.

Cultural References

  • The episode title references the sport of the same name that consists in hurling or "chucking" a pumpkin solely by mechanical means for distance.
  • The chairs the Dunphys have in their kitchen are the Quails Run style from the Winners Only brand.