18 Interesting Facts About Pumpkins

facts about Pumpkins


Pumpkins are synonymous with autumn, embodying the sights and flavors of the season. But there’s much more to pumpkins than jack-o-lanterns and pie. From their ancient history to their global reach, pumpkins have a rich story to tell.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the most fascinating facts about pumpkins that you may not know. We’ll look at pumpkin origins and varieties, their health benefits and uses, and some record-breaking pumpkin achievements. Read on to learn 18 intriguing details about one of fall’s most iconic symbols.

Pumpkins 2

1. Pumpkins Originated in Central America Over 9,000 Years Ago

The oldest pumpkin seeds found date back over 9,000 years to Mexico. Pumpkins are one of the oldest cultivated crops in North and South America. Indigenous tribes like the Iroquois, Cherokee and Navajo grew pumpkins for food long before European settlement.

2. The Name “Pumpkin” Comes from Greece

The word “pumpkin” originates from the Greek word “pepon” meaning “large melon.” This became “pompon” in French and “pumpion” in English.

3. Pumpkins Made Their Way to Europe in the 1500s

European explorers brought pumpkin seeds back from the Americas in the 16th century. By the 1600s, pumpkins were being grown in home gardens across Europe.

4. Colonists Learned to Grow Pumpkins from Native Americans

When colonists came to North America, Native Americans taught them how to cultivate “isqoutm squash,” their word for pumpkin.

5. Pumpkins Likely Appeared at the First Thanksgiving


Pumpkins were probably part of the harvest feast shared by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag in 1621. Early colonial pumpkin pie recipes called for baking a filled pumpkin shell.

6. There Are Over 45 Varieties of Pumpkin in North America

Popular types include Jack-O-Lantern, Sugar Pie, Connecticut Field and Dickinson squash, which is often used canned for pie filling. Other fun varieties: Cinderella, Jarrahdale and Goosebumps.

7. The Largest Pumpkin Variety Can Reach Over 2,500 Pounds

The Atlantic Giant species has produced pumpkins over 2,500 pounds! The current world record was set in Italy in 2021 at 2,702 pounds.

8. Illinois Produces 85% of Canned Pumpkin Globally

The town of Morton, Illinois calls itself the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” Their canned pumpkin makes up 85% of the world’s total.

9. Pumpkins Grow on Every Continent Except Antarctica

Major global producers include China, India, Ukraine, and the U.S. Over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown annually in America alone.

10. Pumpkins Are Actually a Fruit, Not a Vegetable

Botanically, pumpkins are classified as fruits because they contain seeds. Other fruits include squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

11. Every Part of a Pumpkin Is Edible

The flesh, seeds, leaves, and flowers can all be eaten. Pumpkin seeds are a nutritious snack. Leaves and blossoms are used in some dishes.

12. Libby’s Produces Most of the World’s Canned Pumpkin

About 85% of canned pumpkin globally comes from Dickinson squash processed by Libby’s. This makes the perfect year-round pie filling.

13. The Irish Originated Carving Jack-O-Lanterns

The Irish originally carved turnips before switching to pumpkins after coming to America. The name comes from the folk legend of “Stingy Jack.”

14. Pumpkins Are Packed with Vitamins and Minerals

They’re low-calorie, fat-free, and high in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A. Their nutrients help lower blood pressure, boost immunity, and benefit eye health.

15. The Seeds Inside a Single Pumpkin Can Number Over 500

When carving pumpkins, save the seeds to roast for a healthy, crunchy snack packed with zinc, magnesium and protein.

16. Pumpkin Flowers Can Be Eaten Raw or Fried

Pumpkin blossoms can be used raw in salads, fried tempura-style, or stuffed with cheese and herbs for a tasty appetizer.

17. The Record for Largest Pumpkin Pie Was Over 3,600 Pounds

This gigantic pie was baked in 2010 by New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio. A 2016 pumpkin boat in Nova Scotia measured over 42 feet long.

18. Cinderella Was the First Fairy Tale to Use the Word “Pumpkin”

Cinderella's sits in a detailed Pumpkin carriage
Pumpkin carriage

Before Cinderella’s fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a carriage, early versions used words like “vegetable” or “gourd.”


Pumpkins have come a long way from their early cultivation in Central America thousands of years ago. Today, they play a major role in traditions around the world, from Thanksgiving dishes to Halloween jack-o-lanterns. Underneath that bright orange exterior lies a versatile fruit packed with nutrients and health benefits.

Hopefully, this post gave you a new appreciation for pumpkins. Whether you’re visiting a pumpkin patch, carving jack-o-lanterns, or baking a pie, think about the rich history behind this autumn icon.

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