It’s National Pumpkin Day, and Illinois is the King of Pumpkins
Every day is National "something" Day in America. From things like "greasy food day," to "breadstick day," even "knock-knock joke day," we've got a minimum of 365 national "fill in the blank" days to celebrate. Admittedly, celebrating each and every specialty topic day of the year is a bit much, but being from Illinois, we should celebrate today, because it's National Pumpkin Day--and you can't have it without Illinois.
Why is the Land of Lincoln so intrinsic to National Pumpkin Day you ask (you're not asking that, I know--but I'm pretending that you did)?
It's because Illinois is America's number-one producer of pumpkins. Of the nearly 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the U.S. each year, Illinois accounts for nearly half (496 million pounds).
Some other facts that you may not have known about pumpkins, courtesy of the University of Illinois Extension:
- The top pumpkin production states are Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California
- The top ten pumpkin producing counties in Illinois are Tazewell, Kankakee, Mason, Logan, Will, Marshall, Kane, Pike, Carroll and Woodford
- Around 90 to 95% of the processed pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois
- Pumpkins are grown primarily for processing with a small percentage grown for ornamental sales through you-pick farms, farmers' market and retail sales
- The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.
- Pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snake bites
- A 2,145-pound pumping from Streator, Illinois holds the current North American record. Grown by Gene McMullen in 2015, the great pumpkin weighed in a few hundred pounds lighter than the current world record pumpkin from 2014. At 2,323-pounds, the giant pumpkin from Switzerland retains the world record prize
- The name pumpkin originated from "pepon" – the Greek word for "large melon."