Pumpkins aren't vegetables
While you might think pumpkins are a vegetable, they're actually a fruit. More specifically, a berry!
A fruit develops from the flower of a plant and contains the seeds. The other plant parts are categorized as vegetables. Pumpkins grow from the flower of the plant, so that makes them a fruit.
But what makes them a berry?
Fleshy fruits that are produced from a single ovary are classified as berries. Pumpkins fit the bill!
Other unsuspecting berries include avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bananas.
Illinois is consistently the nation's largest producer of pumpkins
Around 90 to 95% of the processed pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois.
In fact, Morton, IL is known as the Pumpkin Capital of the World.
Pumpkins have a lot of seeds
You can estimate the number of seeds a pumpkin has by counting the number of sections the pumpkin has and multiplying that number by 16. A medium-sized pumpkin typically contains around 500 seeds!
Since pumpkins are mostly hollow on the inside, they contain a lot of air. So much so that they are less dense than water and will float when given the chance. This is a fun experiment to run with young kids as they almost always expect a huge pumpkin to sink. Try it out!
They're completely edible
That's right! The leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, skin, and flesh are all perfectly edible.
Pumpkin pie used to look a lot different
According to an article published by history.com,
"Both the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe ate pumpkins and other squashes indigenous to New England—possibly even during the harvest festival—but the fledgling colony lacked the butter and wheat flour necessary for making pie crust. Moreover, settlers hadn’t yet constructed an oven for baking. According to some accounts, early English settlers in North America improvised by hollowing out pumpkins, filling the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard, then roasting the gourds whole in hot ashes."
Read the whole article here
History of the Jack O' Lantern
It all begins in Ireland with an old folktale about a man named Stingy Jack.
As the story goes, Stingy Jack invited the Devil out for drinks and at the end of the night convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to pay the tab. Being the trickster that he was, Jack put the coin into his pocket next to a silver cross, effectively trapping the Devil in his coin form. Jack eventually freed the Devil on the condition that he not bother Jack and not claim his soul should he die.
When Jack died a number of years later, the Devil kept his promise not to claim Jack's soul in hell and God refused to let such a conniving figure into heaven. So, Jack was sent out into the night with only a burning coal to light his way. He put the coal into a carved-out turnip and roams the Earth to this day. He was thereafter referred to as "Jack of the Lantern", "Jack O' Lantern" for short.
In Ireland and Scotland, folks made their own jack o' lanterns by carving scary faces into large turnips and potatoes and setting them out to scare off wandering evil spirits like Jack. Immigrants from these countries to America found that pumpkins work wonderfully as jack o' lanterns and they have been the norm ever since.