Growing up, watching Linus be disappointed by The Great Pumpkin was a tradition in many homes across the country. Linus believed so hard that this mythical creature would visit him if he could just persevere long enough in the pumpkin patch. But alas, his dream never came true. But Linus wasn’t far off in how “great” the pumpkin is…as a matter of fact it played an important role in the survival of our early English settlers!
Today, is #NationalPumpkinDay, a fact I learned as I was perusing my weekly calendar earlier this week. And then ironically enough I came across an article with interesting facts about this autumnal orange orb on the New England Historical Society website and I thought I would share with you.
While today’s pumpkins are often destined as filling in a pie or to decorate our stoops for Halloween, but in the early days of English settlers, the pumpkin or pompion, were a staple in the New World diet. Initial crops of wheat and corn planted by the early English settlers failed miserably and if it weren’t for the abundance and heartiness of the pumpkin, many would not have survived the harsh New England winter. So let’s pay a little homage to the GREAT pumpkin!
- Pumpkins were so vital to the early English settlers that they rated a verse in the very first American folk song titled “New England Annoyances”! The lyrics wer
- “For pottage and puddings and custards and pies,
- Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies.
- We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
- If it was not for pumpkin we should be undoon.”
- The Connecticut Field pumpkin is one of the oldest variety of pumpkins in existence and has been the standard carving pumpkin since 1871!
- Henry David Thoreau is thought to to be the first person to a grow a giant pumpkin in America. This is evidenced in his 1857 book, “Wild Front”. Thoreau wrote, “I planted six seeds sent from the Patent Office and labelled, I think, “Potiro Jaune Grosse (large yellow pumpkin). Two came up and one has become a pumpkin which weight 123 1/2 pounds. The other bore four weighing together 186 1/4 pounds. The big pumpkin took a premium at the Middlesex Show, that fall.”
- Native Americans would flatten strips of pumpkin, dry them, weave them together and create mats that they would then use to trade.
- Pumpkins are extremely healthy, packing in lots of fibers, vitamin A, potassium, beta carotene and the seeds are high in magnesium. But despite being packed full of healthy, they are still 90% water.
- While Thoreau may have grown the first giant pumpkin on American soil, his pales in comparison to the current record holder which weighed in at a whopping 2,624.6 pounds (2016)! That’s a whole lot of pies.
- In early colonial times, pumpkin shells were used as a hair cutting template! Colonists used them to ensure that their hair achieved a round and uniform cut. As a result of this practice, New Englanders earned the nickname “Pumpkinheads”.
- Pumpkins can and are grown on every continent EXCEPT Antarctica.
- There are 1.5 BILLION pounds of pumpkins grown every year in the United States. Of this 1.5 billion pounds, 80% of the pumpkins are ripe and harvested in October!
As you can see by this sample of pumpkin facts, Linus was absolutely right in believing in the Great Pumpkin!
*How do you mend a broken jack-o-lantern?
*With a pumpkin patch!