1. Did you know that the first Jack O’Lanterns were not made from pumpkins at all, but turnips? Pumpkins are actually indigenous to the Western hemisphere, and were completely unknown before the days of Columbus in Europe and especially Ireland, birthplace of Halloween and Jack O’Lanterns. Turnip pie, anyone?
2. According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy, mean old drunkard named Jack who liked to play tricks on everyone. One night he even tricked the devil into promising not to take his soul when he died. Unfortunately, when he finally passed on he was refused entrance to Heaven, and when the devil, as promised, also refused him entrance to Hell, he was forced to wander the earth without a resting place. To light his way, he placed an ember given to him by the devil inside a hollowed out turnip, which became the first Jack O’Lantern.
3. When French explorer Jacques Cartier reconnoitered the St. Lawrence region of North America in 1954, he discovered what he termed “gros melons” (translation, big ta-tas). The Greek word pepon, which means large melon, somehow became the English pompion, which later evolved into the name we all know and love, the pumpkin.
4. The heaviest pumpkin on record weighed in at a whopping 1,810 pounds, 8 ounces, and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater in October of 2010 in Stillwater, Minnesota. That’s a lot of pies!
5. Speaking of pies, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed an astounding 3,699 pounds, far surpassing the previous record of 2,020 pounds. Measuring 20 feet in diameter, the pie was concocted in New Bremen Ohio at the 2010 New Bremen Pumpkinfest, and contained 1,212 pounds of canned pumpkin, 233 dozen eggs, 109 gallons of evaporated milk, 525 pounds of sugar, 7 pounds of salt and 14-1/2 pounds of cinnamon. Yumm.
6. Stephen Clarke holds the record for the world’s fastest pumpkin carving time: 16.47 seconds, smashing his previous record of 24.03 seconds. According to Guinness, the rules state that the pumpkin must weigh less than 24 pounds and be carved in a traditional way, which requires at least eyes, nose, ears and a mouth. Wonder what he could do with a Thanksgiving turkey…
7. The City of Keene, New Hampshire holds the record for the most Jack O’Lanterns lit at once, 30,581 on October 19, 2013. And it wasn’t even Halloween!
8. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” first aired in 1966 and was the third Peanuts special and the second holiday-themed one, after “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Produced and animated by Bill Melendez, it pre-empted “My Three Sons” on CBS on October 27, 1966. It continued to air annually on CBS through 2000, when ABC picked up the rights. Check your local listings for this year’s air date!
9. Morton, Illinois is the self-proclaimed pumpkin capital of the world, and home to Libby Corporation’s pumpkin industry. The State of Illinois harvests nearly 12,300 acres of pumpkins annually, more than any other state in the U.S. Oy!
10. Although pumpkins originated in South America, today they’re grown all over the world, even in Alaska. There is one place on earth you won’t find any pumpkins, though; Antarctica.
You’ll find plenty of pumpkins at Cutting Edge Haunted House this Halloween — we love our Jack O’Lanterns! It’s the Haunting Season, and we’re open again Saturday night, September 13 (ooh–eeh–ooh) from 8 to 10 pm! Be there!