Photo: That is my youngest daughter, Madison Doble, an amazing young woman, fantastic local realtor with Keller Williams of the High Country, and fan of pumpkins!
Pumpkin patches are popular with tourist here in the mountains. Take a short drive through any of the ski mountain communities from Wisp Resort in Maryland, through all of the resort towns in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina and you couldn’t miss seeing a roadside market or stand that was featuring pumpkins if you tried.
From flavoring up coffees, to my favorite Sam Adams Octoberfest beer to candies you’ll find that pumpkins are as much a part of autumn as cool, brisk nights, bright colored leaves and more.
However, did you know that beyond their connection with fall aesthetics and seasonal beverages, pumpkins are a fruit of great intrigue. Contrary to popular belief, pumpkins are classified as fruits due to their origin from flowers and possession of seeds. Native to North America, pumpkins have been cultivated for thousands of years, playing a crucial role in the lives of Native American tribes as a source of sustenance, medicine, and even currency. Furthermore, pumpkins offer nutritional benefits, boasting high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber.
Oh yea, and they are used as the medium for would be carvers who can morph them into jack-o-lanterns and more.
Here’s one last “did you know” (I didn’t) –
Before becoming a major cultural symbol in America, pumpkin was used as a marketing tool by people who discovered that they had plenty of it. Initially, in colonial America, people fed on bread and beer, something they acquired a taste for from their colonizers. As food shortages hit when world wars took place, people started hoarding pumpkins since they were plentiful and could be used on the bread as a filling/dressing. Pumpkin PIE became a hit.
It then struck them that pumpkin was theirs to make use of, since they always had enough of them and could easily become a part of mainstream food. From there, pumpkin became an accessory, a decoration item, a US symbol.
Once Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1844, there was no going back for pumpkins. It now offers the “authentic and wholesome American” feel and is synonymous with everything festive.