A pumpkin is a cultivar of a squash plant, most commonly of Cucurbita pepo, that is round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to orange coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. Some exceptionally large cultivars of squash with similar appearance have also been derived from Cucurbita maxima. It is also the symbol of halloween! So check out some awesome facts!
1. The word “pumpkin” showed up for the first time in the fairy tale Cinderella.
2. A French explorer in 1584 first called them “gros melons,” which translates into Latin as “pepon,” which means large melon. It wasn’t until the 17th century that they were first referred to as pumpkins.
3. The original jack-o’-lanterns were made with turnips and potatoes by the Irish.
4. In England, they used large beets and lit them with embers to ward off evil spirits. Irish immigrants brought their customs to America, but found that pumpkins were much easier to carve.
5. Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica. Which makes quite a bit of sense considering, oh you know, Antartica is a 24-7 icy tundra.
6. Over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced each year in the United States.
7. The top pumpkin-producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.
8. Morton, Illinois, calls itself the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”
9. According to the University of Illinois, 95% of the pumpkins grown in the U.S. are harvested in Illinois soil. Morton is allegedly responsible 80% of the world’s canned pumpkin production.
10. 80% of the U.S.’s pumpkin crop is available during October.
11. Out of the total 1.5 billion pounds, over 800 million pumpkins are ripe for the picking in a single month of the year.
12. The world’s largest pumpkin was more than five feet in diameter and weighed over 1,800 pounds.
13. It was presented in Minnesota in October 2010.
14. The largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds.
11. There are more than 45 different varieties of pumpkin. They range in color like red, yellow and green, and have names like Hooligan, Cotton Candy and Orange Smoothie.
12. Pumpkins are technically fruit.
13. More specifically, they are a winter squash in the family Cucurbitacae, which includes cucumbers and melons. But because they’re savory, many people just call them vegetables anyway.
14. Every single part of a pumpkin is edible. You can eat the skin, leaves, flowers, pulp, seeds and even the stem!
15. Each pumpkin has about 500 seeds.
16. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow.
17. High in iron, they can be roasted to eat. The flowers that grow on pumpkin vines are also edible.
18. Delaware hosts an annual “Punkin Chunkin” championship.
19. Teams compete in a pumpkin launching competition, where pumpkins are shot almost 5,000 feet from an air cannon.
20. Pumpkins are 90% water.
21. One cup of canned pumpkin only has 83 calories and only half a gram of fat.
22. They also have more fiber than kale, more potassium than bananas and are full of heart-healthy magnesium and iron.
23. Surprisingly, pumpkin pie isn’t America’s favorite.
24. According to a survey by the American Pie Council, it’s apple that “takes the cake” as 19% of Americans say its their pie of choice. Pumpkin is in second place with a respectable 13%.
25. A cup of cubed pumpkin contains almost twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which promotes good vision, especially in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.
26. It has also been found to slow the decline of retinal function in those with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that can lead to blindness, according to researchers from Harvard.
27. Pumpkin seed oil is full of phytoestrogens, which research shows are beneficial for preventing hypertension. When researchers fed rats a diet supplement with the oil, they found that it helped lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in just 12 weeks.
28. Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, the amino acid that contributes to post-Thanksgiving dinner sleepiness, says Virgin. Tryptophan is also responsible for helping the body make serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that helps you relax and unwind. Not only do pumpkin seeds promote better sleep, the serotonin will improve your mood.
29. They are rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidants with cancer protective properties. And pumpkin seeds could be especially healthy for men. Researchers in Taiwan found pumpkin seed oil blocked unhealthy prostate growth in male rats.
30. Pumpkin is high in fiber. One Harvard study of over 40,000 male health professionals found that those who ate a diet high in fiber had a 40 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared to those who ate a diet low in fiber.