You can grow them, eat them, carve them or even row them. These fun facts about pumpkins are delicious, giant and different, so keep on reading!
If you have ever been to a Thanksgiving dinner, you have likely had pumpkin pie. And of course, what is Halloween without jack-o-lanterns?
But there are so many fun facts about pumpkins that these traditional uses don’t even scratch the surface.
Did you know that pumpkins are actually a fruit? Most people assume they’re vegetables, but all winter squash is technically a fruit.
And pumpkins are very healthy. The meat and seeds are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. So go ahead, reach for another slice of that pumpkin pie!
This hardy plant grows everywhere in the world except Antarctica. The United States alone produces 1.5 billion pumpkins each year. Isn’t that crazy!?
And if you think that’s interesting, just wait until you discover where jack-o-lanterns originally come from.
But the most surprising pumpkin facts is that most canned pumpkin isn’t actually pumpkin! Yes, we were as shocked as you when we learned that one.
So, keep reading to find out more weird facts about pumpkins.
19 Fun Facts About Pumpkins
1. Pumpkins are actually a fruit
Pumpkins have internal seeds, which make them fruit. They are closely related to melons and cucumbers, as well.
2. Pumpkins grow just about everywhere
And when we say just about, we mean everywhere except Antarctica. And to be fair, only two flowering plants along with some moss and algae grow on that frigid continent.
Back to pumpkins. This fruit grows on every continent in every other part of the world. But the areas that produce the most pumpkins are China, America, India, Mexico, and Ukraine.
3. The Unites States grows billions a year
While America might not be the largest producer in the world, 1.5 billion pumpkins a year is no small number.
Five different states are responsible for the vast majority of pumpkin production in the United States. California, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas grow most of this fruit in America. And most of these pumpkins are sold in October. Though that pumpkin fact should not be surprising at all!
4. But Illinois grows the most
With over 12,000 acres of farmland dedicated to pumpkins, Illinois is the top producer in America. This state grows twice as many as other states.
Morton, Illinois, is known as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” So many pumpkins grow in the area that Libby’s is the top producer of canned pumpkins worldwide. If you have canned pumpkin in your pantry, it’s likely Libby’s.
5. Pumpkins are super healthy
This fun fact about pumpkins surprises many people, probably because people think of things like pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin pies when they think about eating them.
But seriously, pumpkins are full of nutrients and pretty low in calories with only 49 in a cup. Also, you get about half your daily recommended amount of vitamin K in pumpkin, along with lots of vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and iron. So keep on eating those pumpkins!
6. But seriously, they are healthy
Pumpkins are an excellent source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is essential to good health. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body.
Studies have shown that this nutrient keeps you healthy by fighting off infection, strengthening your eyes, and protecting your skin.
7. Even the seeds are good for you
If you have ever carved a pumpkin, then you know they are full of hundreds of seeds. These seeds are not only delicious, but they are also quite nutritious.
If you roast whole pumpkin seeds, they are a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc, iron, and fatty acid. Get creative when you roast them and season them with garlic, paprika, cinnamon, or even chili powder!
8. Every part of the plant is edible
Most people have had pumpkin pie, or some dish made from pumpkin meat. Many have enjoyed some toasted pumpkin seeds, as well.
But how is this for a pumpkin fact? You can eat every part of the plant. Yes, every part, even the skin, leaves, flowers, and stem. Pumpkin blossoms are particularly delicious and quite good for you. Try them fried!
9. We’ve been tricked!
A quick trip down the baking aisle at the grocery store will yield a variety of options for canned pumpkins. However, the stuff inside the can ISN’T actually pumpkin!
Rather, canned pumpkin is actually Dickinson squash, which is closely related to butternut and acorn squash. The USDA hasn’t updated its standards for labeling canned pumpkins since 1957.
If you really want an authentic pumpkin pie, making your own pumpkin puree is a relatively simple process. Simply get a three-pound pumpkin, remove the seeds, and roast the flesh until it’s soft, then puree it all up.
10. While we’re talking about deception…
If you are one of those who wait all year for PSL (pumpkin spiced latte) season, then this pumpkin trivia is for you.
Likely, you really just enjoy certain spices, rather than pumpkin.
Pumpkin spice is traditionally a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. While most major distributors of PSL do have some pumpkin in the drink, you are mostly enjoying sugar and spices.
Pumpkin is a relatively bland fruit and needs a hefty dose of spice to flavor it.
11. Pumpkin pie has changed quite a bit over the years
When we enjoy pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, you are probably used to a sweet yet subtly savory filling in a buttery crust.
However, this dish has been around for centuries. In the earliest versions, a pumpkin puree was baked inside the hollowed-out gourd. Talk about farm-to-table sustainable dishes!
12. Jack-o-lanterns have an interesting origin
This is definitely up there with our favorite pumpkin facts.
Legend has it Jack tricked the Devil several times during life. At death, neither God nor the Devil wanted Jack, so he was cursed to wander the earth with only a piece of coal inside a turnip for light. He became known as Jack of the Lantern.
When Irish immigrants came to America, the practice eventually shifted to lighting pumpkins because of their availability. Hence, jack-o-lanterns! We bet you remember this pumpkin fact when you’re carving your own jack-o-lanterns this year.
13. They were a big part of Victory Gardens in WW2
During WW2, Americans were encouraged to do their part to help the war effort. One of the things many did was grow Victory Gardens to help supplement food shortages and rations.
The Victory Garden Handbook recommended pumpkins. Pumpkin vines produce large fruit that is nutritious and grows easily.
14. We owe Cinderella a thank you
Charles Perrault originally wrote the tale we know today as Cinderella. This story was the first time pumpkins were mentioned in literature.
Previously, people knew this fruit as gros melons in French, which translated to pompions in English. Over the years, pompions became pumpkins.
The rest is history, thanks to a certain maiden going to a ball in an improvised carriage with the help of some mice.
15. There are many types
While you might only see a few types of pumpkins each fall, there are in fact 45 different species of pumpkins. Most are not suitable for carving or eating.
These pumpkins are of different sizes, shapes, and even colors. Have you ever seen a green pumpkin? They do exist!
16. Don’t eat your jack-o-lantern
This is especially true after you have carved it. Pumpkins, like other fruit, react to oxygen when cut, then grow mold and attract bacteria.
But even before you carve it, the pumpkins you buy for carving are incredibly bland and not meant for consumption. Opt for sugar pumpkins if you’re looking to bake a pie.
These small pumpkins are quite sweet and perfect for all your favorite fall recipes.
17. Some pumpkins are literal giants
A favorite pastime in many parts of the world is growing giant pumpkins. Farming communities often have contests each fall with serious prize money going to the heftiest fruit. Many of the winners come from the Cucurbita maxima or Atlantic Giant species.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the heaviest pumpkin ever grown was 2,702 pounds, or 1,226 kilograms. This beast won the title in September 2021 in Italy.
18. More pumpkin world records…
You can win a Guinness record for more than just growing the largest pumpkin.
The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was a whopping 20 feet wide! This hefty dessert weighed 3,669 pounds and the crust required 440 sheets of dough.
Trevor Hunt of the United States holds the record for carving the most pumpkins in an hour. Hunt was able to carve a pumpkin every 33 seconds and managed to finish 109 pumpkins in 60 minutes.
19. Pumpkin rowing is a thing
Yes, you read that right. People around the world participate in pumpkin rowing races. Rowers hollow out massive pumpkins and race to see who can get to the finish line fastest.
So which of these fun facts about pumpkins was your favorite?
If we’ve missed any pumpkin facts, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this article!