Somehow, the pumpkin-spiced latte took this rotund fruit’s status from harbingers of Thanksgiving nostalgia to the poster food for utter basicness. A little unfair, considering most PSLs contain little to no pumpkin.
Let’s reacquaint ourselves with the delightful gourd that did nothing wrong and give it the respect they deserve with these seven facts you may not know. And yes, the pumpkin we know is technically a squash.
1. The U.S. produces 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin each year, mostly in Illinois.
Every state grows at least one variety of pumpkin, but 95 percent of America’s pumpkin farms lie within 90 miles of Peoria, Illinois. The majority of Illinois’ sugar pumpkins get processed and canned at the Libby factory in Morton while other states mostly farm pumpkins better suited to carving.
2. Americans have made pumpkin beer since colonial times.
Native Americans cultivated pumpkins as their primary source of sustenance and shared their many uses with pilgrims. Early settlers took heed of this advice, putting pumpkin in everything from soups to freckle remedies. Why would they stop at beer?
3. You can buy naturally patriotic pumpkins.
Mature pumpkins fall into a broad color spectrum, the most striking of which are red, white, and blue. Regardless of their final hue, however, all varieties start out green.
4. Ninety percent of a pumpkin is water.
Like their watermelon sibling, pumpkins owe much of their weight and substance to water. The remaining 10 percent somehow packs two-days worth of Vitamin A in each cup.
5. The Chinese believe pumpkins harness the Earth’s energy to create their gold color.
China produces the most pumpkins in the world at nearly 7 million tons a year, so you better believe they take them seriously. Pumpkins symbolize prosperity and star in many Chinese New Year dishes. Heavily rooted in folklore, gourds are also gifted as fertility icons – in case you’re on the hunt for an awkward present.
6. Pumpkin vines bloom edible flowers.
Mediterranean cuisine creatively uses pre-pumpkin blossoms as vegetables. A sweeter version of spinach, these flowers can stand alone or be stuffed with all manners of deliciousness (cheese, mainly cheese).
7. The largest pumpkin in the world is in the same weight class as a Toyota Yaris.
At 2,323 pounds, this Swiss-grown pumpkin squashed (no regrets) the competition at the 2014 European Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. No word yet on the pumpkin’s gas mileage.