Prep your pumpkin trivia now: Pumpkin season is upon us.

By Real Simple Editors
Updated September 17, 2020
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Pumpkin facts and trivia - large pumpkin
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It’s no secret that everyone loves pumpkin. (We’ve got endless pumpkin recipes and canned pumpkin recipes to prove it.) But long before pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pancakes, and, well, pumpkin everything, came the humble orange pumpkin. Here, some fascinating pumpkin trivia you might not know about fall’s signature vegetable (er, fruit).

Pumpkin facts

1
The jack-o’-lantern tradition dates back centuries.

People in Ireland used to decorate turnips and potatoes with scary faces to frighten away a scary character named Stingy Jack, who, according to an old myth, roamed the Earth after his death, as the History Channel tells the story. Irish immigrants then brought the practice to the U.S., where it was adapted to the native pumpkins.

RELATED: How Long Do Carved Pumpkins Last?

2
Pumpkins were first grown in Central America.

They’ve grown in North America for 5,000 years, and today, more than 90 percent of the pumpkins processed in the U.S. are grown in Illinois, according to the University of Illinois. Morton, Illinois, calls itself the “Pumpkin Capital of the World” and supposedly processes 80 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin.

3
Cinderella didn’t always ride a pumpkin carriage to the ball.

Though the original Cinderella story dates back to about the first century B.C., the detail about the pumpkin turning into a carriage reportedly wasn’t added until 1697, in a French version by Charles Perrault called “Cendrillon.”

4
One cup of mashed pumpkin contains a whopping 245 percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A.

It also has 19 percent of your Vitamin C and 8 percent of your iron. That’s a veritable superfood (just not in latte form—pumpkin spice lattes typically don’t include actual pumpkins, only the spice mix).

5
The best pumpkins for baking aren’t the biggest.

When it comes to baking, 2- to 8-pound varieties are your best bets for flavor and density. Save the big ones for learning how to carve a pumpkin.

6
The United States produces more than one billion pounds of pumpkins each year.

7
A pumpkin is technically a fruit.

Pumpkins are members of the gourd family. Their botanical names are Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, and Cucurbita argyrosperma (depending on the specific variety).

RELATED: Pumpkin Carving Stencils

8
The heaviest pumpkin on record weighed more than 2,000 pounds.

The Guinness World Record for the Heaviest Pumpkin is currently held by Beni Meier of Switzerland for his 2,323.7-pound pumpkin, presented at a weigh-off in Ludwigsburg, Germany on October 12, 2014.

RELATED: No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas

9
The oldest pumpkin seeds date back 8,000 to 10,000 years.

10
According to the American Pie Council, pumpkin is America’s second favorite kind of pie.

Nineteen percent report preferring apple pie, compared to 13 percent for pumpkin.

11
Halloween pumpkins are planted in the summer.

Pumpkins require 75 to 100 frost-free days to grow, meaning they need to be planted by late May to early July to be ready in time for Halloween.