The Popular Pumpkin Had A Lowly Beginning
It starts when we are just kids. Farm kids nurture and coax them all summer long. City kids see them as creatures of the country, a place where grass is more common than concrete, where the orange orbs thrive. And all kids thrill to the visit of a pumpkin patch in the fall.
Pumpkins and pumpkin spice are everywhere. Time magazine reports that the U.S. sales of pumpkin-flavored items, between the end of July 2016 and end of July 2017 raked in $414 million--up from $286 million in the same period of time in 2013.
In the book "The Curious History of an American Icon" Author Cindy Ott, explains that the pumpkin we love at Thanksgiving was, among colonial American settlers, a "was a food of last resort."
Case in point, pumpkin beer is a seasonal treat today but back then using fermented pumpkin to make beer was taking the cheap route to alcohol because using pumpkins was cheaper than using grain.
Remember the childhood rhyme "Peter, Peter Pumpkin eater?" Ott says that was a derogatory term for a poor, ignorant farmer. It wasn't until the the mid-19th century that pumpkins made a comeback with nostalgic Americans, and that’s when pumpkin pie was born.
By the 20th century, farmers began growing them again, selling them to the city folk who would come visit the country on the weekends and thus the pumpkin became a commodity as Ott says, "because of the image it represents about rural life." (Time)