Have You Been Pronouncing 'Pecan' Wrong? Here's What Pecan Farmers Have to Say

Is it “puh-CON” or “PEA-can”? We settle the debate once and for all—mostly.

To achieve a peaceful, harmonious family get-together, we're advised not to bring up politics or religion. With so many taboo topics, we're here to arm you with a worthwhile drama-free debate that you can chime in with before anything (or anyone) gets hurt: What is the proper way to pronounce the word "pecan"?

Seriously, it's genius. People have strong feelings on the matter—so much so, in fact, that American Pecans launched The Super Safe Pecan Debate, which they deemed "the partisan issue you can passionately argue without risking your invitation to next year's family gathering."

pecan-pronunciation: Hello Our Name Is: Pecan
Getty Images

To settle this once and for all, American Pecans called on pecan fans from across the country to cast their vote for "PEA-can" vs. "puh-CON." The debate ended in November 2020, with puh-CON a clear winner with 66 percent of the votes.

According to Alex Ott, executive director of the American Pecan Council. "...'puh-CON' vs. 'PEA-can' is one debate you can safely bring up with family and friends." He continued, "Even across the 15 pecan-growing states, from California to the Carolinas, growers and shellers themselves say it differently...But no matter how you say it, we can all agree that pecans belong on every Thanksgiving table."

Here, we went straight to the source and polled pecan growers from the "pecan belt" states to get their hot take. The result? Agree to disagree, folks.

01 of 06

Angie Ellis, Pecan Grower in Vienna, Ga.

"As many of our ancestors were part of the education system, the tradition of the pronunciation has been handed down as follows: Puh-CONS are a gift from above; a PEA-can is a porcelain pot you place under the bed. Our fifth generation is now born and will be taught as we were all taught. However, we sometimes modify our response and say that we grow PEA-cans but we sell puh-CONS."

02 of 06

Lenny Wells, Professor of Horticulture and Extension Horticulture Specialist for Pecans at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.

"The best response I ever heard to this question came from another grower who told me, 'When they bring $2 per pound or more, they're puh-CONS; when they bring $0.50 to $1, they're PEA-cans.'"

03 of 06

Larry Willson, Pecan Grower in Albany, Ga.

"There are two answers I give when asked how to pronounce pecan: one silly and one more serious. The silly answer is that we don't care how you pronounce it as long as you buy them! The serious answer is different. Shortly after I came back to my family's pecan business, about 40 years ago, I was at a Southeastern Pecan Growers meeting in Sandestin, Florida. During the cocktail party, I asked Felix Marbury, a lion in the industry and a contemporary of my father, how he pronounced pecan. I remember his answer to this day. He said, 'Son, most people say PEA-can, but us growers say puh-CON.'"

04 of 06

Kortney Chase, Pecan Grower and Sheller in San Saba, Texas

"Everyone here in my pecan world pronounces it puh-CON, as the native Americans did. They were the first to name our beloved nut."

05 of 06

Dan Zedan, Pecan Sheller in Wayne, Ill.

"It's puh-CON. A PEA-can is something my mother used to put under her bed as a child before going to sleep."

06 of 06

John Heuler, Pecan Grower in Bowie, Ariz.

"Where I was from in the western part of the U.S., we always pronounced it puh-CON, and the nice farmers from Georgia would have that southern twang to it PEA-can. Either way, they are just the best."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles