Halloween is a highlight of autumn's activities, and nothing says "Halloween" like a pumpkin. Whether you carve pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns or roast them for pies, pumpkins are a quaint and quintessential part of autumn. Enjoy these 31 fun facts about pumpkins.
1) Native Americans planted pumpkins with corn as companion plants.
2) In addition to eating pumpkin flesh, Native Americans cut pumpkin rinds into strips, dried the strips, and wove them into mats for trading.
3) Pilgrims probably encountered pumpkins at the first Thanksgiving meal.
4) American colonists brewed pumpkin beer.
5) The word “pumpkin” derives from the Green word “pepon” which translates loosely as “large melon.”
6) The French dubbed pumpkins “pompon.”
7) The English called them “pumpion,” and eventually added the diminutive “kin” to arrive at our word “pumpkin.”
8) Pumpkins are not vegetables, but fruits in the berry family.
9) Pumpkins cousins are cucumbers, gourds, squash, and melons.
10) Cinderella’s fairy godmother transformed a pumpkin into her golden carriage.
11) Pumpkins come in a wide range of sizes. The smallest are about the size of a baseball.
12) The largest pumpkins weigh more than 1,000 pounds.
13) Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, who seemed to have control issues, kept his wife in a pumpkin shell, according to the nursery rhyme.
14) The Smashing Pumpkins is an alternative rock band out of Chicago, Illinois.
15) Jack O’Lantern was named after an evil blacksmith.
16) Pumpkins were not the original jack o’lanterns: turnips were.
17) Legend has it the original jack o’lantern held coals straight from hell.
18) “Pumpkin” is a term of endearment.
19) Pumpkin is served in both sweet and savory recipes.
20) Pumpkins pack a nutritional punch with vitamins A and C, potassium and beta carotene.
22) The 2011 U.S. pumpkin harvested was valued at $113 million.
23) Illinois, California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan are the top pumpkin production states in the U.S.
24) According to the University of Illinois, 90 percent of pumpkins raised in the U.S. are grown within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois.
25) In the U.S., most pumpkins get processed as canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie mix. A small percentage are sold for decorative purposes, including Jack O-Lanterns.
26) The town of Morton, Illinois, is the self-proclaimed Pumpkin Capital of the World.
27) In Morton, Illinois, a Libby’s® pumpkin processing plant owned by Nestlé Food Company cans more than 85 percent of the world’s pumpkin each year.
28) Pumpkin is a warm-season, tender vine highly sensitive to cold soil and frost.
29) Pumpkin vines require at least 50 to 100 square feet per hill. 5 to 6 feet between hills spaced in rows 10 to 15 feet apart.
30) Pumpkins no longer are limited to the color orange. White pumpkins have grown in popularity.
31) Bees are necessary for pollinating pumpkins.
Enjoy autumn's glorious days, and may the season yield you and yours a rich harvest.
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