The tradition of putting a light in a carved pumpkin actually started with doing the same to turnips. This began in Ireland and Scotland with the folk tale of “Stingy Jack,” a man who twice tricked the devil and was denied entry into both heaven and hell when he died. He was doomed to wander the earth at night with only a coal ember to light his way, and scary faces carved for “Jack of the Lantern” were to keep him and other evil spirits away.
In the US, no state grows or processes more pumpkins than Illinois. Over 40% of all pumpkins grown in the US come from Illinois, as do fully 90% of the nation’s canned pumpkin. (On the topic of Illinois and pumpkin time, the horror classic film “Halloween” was set in fictional Haddonfield, Illinois, but not actually filmed in the state at all, as anyone noticing mountains in some scenes might suspect. It was wholly filmed in California.)
When Smashing Pumpkins band founder Billy Corgan first heard someone mention smashing pumpkins, he thought it would be a good band name. He was thinking “smashing” in the British sense, an adjective meaning “fantastic and amazing,” and later clarified that “it could have been any vegetable.”
The now-ubiquitous pumpkin spice flavoring began in the 1930s as the all-in-one combination of spices long used in pumpkin pie. The exact combination varies, but ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves or allspice are basically universal. Starbucks first started selling pumpkin spice lattes in 2003, and now the flavor / scent seems to be in everything.
There are many pumpkin colors besides orange, including red, white, blue, green, yellow, purple, pink, black and tan.
It turns out that all parts of a pumpkin are edible, with the right preparation, and pumpkin seeds are quite nutritious.
Pumpkins are simultaneously a gourd, a fruit, and a squash, and likely the heaviest in all of these categories. The world’s heaviest pumpkin, as of time of writing, is 2,749 lbs., grown by a Minnesota horticulture teacher in his backyard.