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The Curious History of an American Icon

by Cindy Ott

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Washington Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

Foreword: Not by Bread Alone

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pp. vii-xii


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pp. xiii-xvi

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pp. 3-8

In the fall of 1995 I helped a friend, David Heisler, sell pumpkins in front of his farmhouse in Comus, Maryland—more a crossroads than a town—about forty miles northwest of Washington, D.C. Heisler had grown up on a nearby dairy farm that had since been sold to developers and divided into large estates. ...

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1. Corn, Beans, and Just Another Squash: 10,000 BCE to 1600

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pp. 9-31

It was most likely cold that day in November 1621 when English colonists and resident Indians gathered to celebrate the newcomers’ first successful harvest in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at a fête that Americans now commemorate as the first Thanksgiving. According to Edward Winslow, one of two participants to leave a written record of the day, ...

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2. “The Times Wherein Old Pompion Was a Saint”: From Pumpkin Beer to Pumpkin Pie, 1600 to 1799

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pp. 32-56

With herbals in hand and little more than hope to guide them, those who took the leap and set off for North America were not fully prepared for the dramatic adjustments they would have to make upon their arrival. When the first English colonists landed on the continent’s shores in the early seventeenth century, ...

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3. Thoreau Sits on a Pumpkin: The Making of a Rural New England Icon, 1800 to 1860

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pp. 57-84

Taste—that is, the quality of its meat—was the least likely reason pumpkin became a dessert. Indeed, when most Americans in the early republic sat down to a meal, they did not expect to find pumpkin on their plates. With increasing national prosperity and a greater number and variety of foods available, ...

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4. “Wonderfully Grand and Colossal”: The Pumpkin and the Nation, 1861 to 1899

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pp. 85-111

After the Civil War, American farmers would increasingly forsake the agrarian ideal of self-sufficiency in their push toward maximizing profits on commodity crops.1 They relied on banks to extend them credit to expand their operations and purchase the latest equipment. ...

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5. Jack-o’-Lantern Smiles: Americans Celebrate the Fall Harvest with Pumpkins, 1900 to 1945

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pp. 112-138

John Arata, a farmer living near Half Moon Bay, just outside San Francisco, recounted a day back in the 1930s when he and his brother were returning to the family farmstead from distant fields with a wagonload of pumpkins for their hogs. “This car came along with a couple of well-dressed men” who wanted to buy pumpkins, ...

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6. Atlantic Giants to Jack-Be-Littles: The Changing Nature of Pumpkins, 1946 to the Present

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pp. 139-164

Those nicked, crooked, and cockeyed pumpkins on display in bins from the early years of the Circleville Pumpkin Show and pictured in the 1940s FSA photographs of roadside stands are no more. Now, pumpkins—real pumpkins—are as beautifully orange and perfectly round as the painted ones in Ehninger’s 1867 bucolic harvest scene ...

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7. Pulling Up a Pig Sty to Put in a Pumpkin Patch: The Changing Nature of American Rural Economies, 1946 to the Present

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pp. 165-198

Reintroduced after World War II, the Circleville Pumpkin Show in Ohio now attracts 300,000 people over a four-day period at the end of every October. The festival features more than 100,000 pounds of pumpkins on display, a pumpkin pie contest, a 500-pound pumpkin pie, a giant-pumpkin competition, ...


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pp. 199-268


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pp. 269-308


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pp. 309-324

Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books

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E-ISBN-13: 9780295804446
E-ISBN-10: 0295804440
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295991955
Print-ISBN-10: 029599195X

Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 812508498
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Pumpkin

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Pumpkin -- History.
  • Cooking (Pumpkin) -- United States -- History.
  • Pumpkin growers -- United States -- History.
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