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History of the Pumpkin

The seeds from which pumpkins evolved are believed to originate from North America. The word pumpkin originated from the Greek word “pepon” which means large melon. The word gradually morphed through multiple languages until it turned into “pumpkin” by American colonists.


For centuries the pumpkin was consumed and used in many ways by Native Americans. They would cook the flesh of the pumpkin by roasting, baking, boiling and drying it. They also ate the seeds of the pumpkin and sometimes used them as medicine. The shells they could dry and use as containers to store grain and other staples. It is possible they also pounded and dried the pumpkin fibers, to weave into mats. The many uses of pumpkin helped the Native Americans, and later the Pilgrims, through cold winters.


Early European explorers brought pumpkin seeds back with them where they were used as a source of food for animals. For the settlers that arrived in America, the pumpkin quickly became a staple in their diets. Over the years since, the pumpkin has been used in a growing number of recipes from desserts to soups.

Pumpkin Facts


  • The largest pumpkin ever recorded was in 2016 in Germany 2,624 pounds!

  • The largest pumpkin ever grown in North America was in Rhode Island - 2,261 pounds!

  • The World's Largest Pumpkin Pie was made on September 25, 2010, they baked a 3,699-pound pumpkin pie.

  • Germany also holds the record for World’s largest pumpkin festival.

  • One of the largest pumpkin festivals in the U.S.A. is in New Hampshire and has broken world records for the most Jack-o-Lanterns lit at one time.

  • The term Jack-o-lanterns originated from an Irish myth about a man named Jack who was not allowed to enter heaven or hell, so he roams the earth burning coal in a carved-out turnip as a lantern. Source: The History Channel 

  • Pumpkins are related to squash and cucumbers

  • Pumpkins contain nutrients such as Vitamin A and Potassium.

  • Pumpkin flowers are edible

  • Pilgrims were known to make pumpkin beer

  • Hollowed out pumpkins were used by early New Englanders to help cut hair evenly, which is where the term “pumpkin head” came from.

See more Educational content about Pumpkins 

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