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The History of the Pumpkin

Every Thanksgiving season, families gather around the table and celebrate a meal together. And let's be honest: As delicious as turkey can be, a well-made dessert can steal the show. Pumpkin pie, the hallmark of Thanksgiving, has been stealing the show for hundreds of years. This food's history is interesting, relevant and tasty.

Name and Origin

Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkins are native to North America, which meant Europeans had a blast when they discovered them. The food has been linked to seeds that grew almost 9,000 years ago in Mexico! Native Americans used pumpkins and their seeds for food and medicine. When European settlers discovered the pumpkin, they brought it back to France and England.

The name "pumpkin" stems from the Greek word "pepon," or large melon. The pumpkin is a squash, but "pepon" means 'cooked by the sun,' which more accurately describes the food. When pumpkin arrived in France, its name was changed to "pompon." The English called the food "pumpion," and colonists in North America changed the name again to "pumpkin," ending the food's multilingual identity crisis and giving us the name we all know it by.

How It Became a Pie

Pumpkins
Pumpkins

How did the pumpkin go from a squash filled with slime and seeds to a warm, fresh-baked pie? We can't thank one specific person, but we can be grateful to the first colonists in North America, who ate pumpkin as a principal part of their diet. Colonists cut off the top of the pumpkin, scooped out its insides and filled it with spices, honey and milk. This was the predecessor to our modern pumpkin pie. Colonists used the gooey insides to make pie crust. Pumpkin pie became popular in North America and in England, although the recipes in both locations differed. Recipes for pumpkin pies appeared in English cookbooks as early as the 17th century and in American cookbooks in the early 1800s. At around the same time it entered American cookbooks, pumpkin pie became an expected part of Thanksgiving meals.

Check out Huffington Post's video on the history of pumpkin pie!

Information gathered from Wikipedia and Yahoo! Voices.