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25 Facts About Pumpkins That You May Not Know

Pumpkin harvest loaded on the old buckboard

It’s F-A-L-L and time to start thinking about pumpkins – pumpkin pies, pumpkin cookies and cakes, pumpkins, cornstalks and mums on the porch… just about any and everything having to do with pumpkins!

Thought I would throw out some pumpkin “trivia”.  How much do you know about pumpkins? Hope you’ll learn something new and then use it to  entertain family and friends with these pumpkin facts:

1.   More than 1.5 million pounds of pumpkins were produced in the U.S. last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with Illinois farmers producing roughly half of the total pumpkins grown in the US.  That’s more than its next five competitors – Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California combined.

Pumpkin patch in Illinois
2.  According to the University of Illinois, 90 percent of the pumpkins grown in the United States are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois, which happens to be the home of Libby’s pumpkin plant.

3.  According to Guinness World Records, the record for the heaviest pumpkin was set in 2016 with a pumpkin that weighed 2,625 pounds. For comparison’s sake, a two-door hardtop Mini Cooper automobile weighs in at 2,605 lbs.

Guinness record for largest pumpkin.

4.  The record for the largest pumpkin pie, set in 2010, was 3,699 pounds.

Amazingly, this pie was 20 feet in diameter and used 1,212 lbs of canned pumpkin, 2,796 eggs (233 dozen), 109 gallons of evaporated milk, 525 pounds of sugar, 7 pounds of salt and 14.5 pounds of cinnamon.

World's largest pumpkin pie

5.  50 Million… that’s the average number of pumpkin pies eaten each Thanksgiving. Last year Costco alone sold nearly 1.75 million pies (at $5.99 a pop) in the three days leading up to Thanksgiving Day.

That’s a lot of dessert, but it could be worse: a slice of pumpkin pie (an eighth of a 9-inch diameter pie) has 316 calories… but a wedge of gooey pecan pie will set you back 503 calories. Enjoy!

Calories in one slice of pumpkin pie

6.  Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte was released in fall of 2003 and since that time, they have sold more than 200 million pumpkin spice lattes in 50 countries.

Although it has been a seasonal best seller, it contained no pumpkin.  However, in August 2015, Starbucks announced it would change the recipe to include real pumpkin and no caramel coloring.

It's Fall and time for Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes

7.  Pumpkins originated in Central America, but are grown all over the world on six of the seven continents, with Antarctica being the sole exception. They are even grown in Alaska.

8.  A pumpkin is a fruit. Most people think of it as a vegetable.

9.  Pumpkins are 90% water.

10.  Pumpkin is low in calories (about 80 for 1 cup puree). It’s a very good source of fiber, vitamins A and C, and the minerals iron, potassium and manganese. Pumpkin seeds are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

11.  Pumpkins are gluten free.

From a medicinal standpoint, pumpkins have been used for a variety of ailments:
12.  They were once recommended as a cure for freckles.
13.  They were used as a remedy for snake bites.
14.  The seeds help avoid prostate cancer in men. The oil made from pumpkin seeds is possibly effective for symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia).

Movies:
15.  The most famous pumpkin of all… It’s the one a fairy godmother transformed into a magical carriage for an orphaned scullery maid in Disney’s 1950’s classic Cinderella, of course.

TV Shows:
16.  At 51 years old, It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown continues to attract between 6 and 7 million viewers every year when it airs on ABC in October.

Linus’ words about the magical squash remain timeless: “There are 3 things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”

Cinderella's chariot was a pumpkin
It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

17.  There are 21 people in the U.S. listed on whitepages.com with the last name ‘Pumpkin’

18.  There is one town in the US named for the pumpkin – Pumpkin, Kentucky.

19.  99% of all pumpkins are sold for decorations.   And recently, pumpkin-decorating has taken on a new, and absolutely adorable turn.

It’s not just about putting a few pumpkins on the porch, or carving them into jack-o’-lanterns.

Instead, the hottest trend with pumpkins is making them into the perfect photo op for the real pumpkin in your life… your child!  Nothing would make a parent or grandparent smile any faster than seeing a picture like that.  My Granddaughter, Katie, was a little unsure at first, but really got into it trying to decide which ONE she wanted to take home with us.  But, little boys, don’t like to be put in pumpkins – lol.

Using a pumpkin as a decoration
Granddaughter, Katie, in the pumpkin patch
He's not so excited about being stuffed in a pumpkin

20.  New Hampshire designated the Pumpkin (Cucurbita mixta) as its Official State Fruit in 2006.

21.  Pumpkin halves were supposedly used as guides for haircuts in colonial New Haven, Connecticut, giving rise to the nickname ‘pumpkinhead.’

22.  Colonists sliced off pumpkin tops; removed seeds and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. This was baked in hot ashes and is the origin of pumpkin pie.

23.  A pumpkin is not a Jack-o-Lantern until it’s been carved.

24.  The first jack-o-lanterns were made with turnips or beets. The term “jack-o-lantern” stems from an Irish myth about a man named Stringy Jack whose ghost wandered around carrying a carved-out-turnip with a burning coal for a lantern. Only years later was a pumpkin used, which gave out more light.

Pumpkin jack-o-lantern with a candle inside

25.  Speaking of Jack, pumpkin aficionados say that if you cover your carved Jack-o-Lantern with a damp cloth when it’s not on display, it will help preserve its life a little bit longer.

And, about a ½ hour after carving, wipe out your pumpkin with a dry cloth and coat the cut edges with petroleum jelly or brush on a little vegetable oil with a brush. This simple step will also keep your Jack-o-lantern smiling just a little longer.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit of trivia about pumpkins.  Do you have any tidbit you’d like to add?  Just leave a comment below and I’ll add it.

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