15 Random and Geeky Facts About Pop Culture Pumpkins (2022)

15 Random and Geeky Facts About Pop Culture Pumpkins (1)

As the appearance of the robin is one of the first signs of spring in many areas, the emerging of the pumpkins—and pumpkin-flavored food and beverage—seems to be a large (and most often) orange indication that fall and fall observances are upon us.

According to sites like History.com, more than 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in the United States each year, which isn’t surprising as this particular gourd is indigenous to the western hemisphere and has been grown in North America for five thousand years. (Yes, you read that right.)

Pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns have also found their way into the pop culture, literary, and the geekier realms, as well as folklore. As autumn creeps upon us, here are 15 completely random facts about these brightly colored seasonal gourds in fiction.

1. The animated seasonal favorite and testament to childhood faith and disappointments, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, has been around since 1966, and Linus has yet to see his pumpkin hero rise from the pumpkin patch. However, Charlie Brown has received plenty of “sympathy candy” from kids, who mailed candy to the studio for several years after the special first aired.

2. Last fall, we talked about Jack Skellington and some other “random and geeky facts about skeletons,” but since Jack is “The Pumpkin King,” Halloweentown is filled with pumpkins. To help make him feel at home in the Haunted Mansion overlay, more than 400 flicker lights and 100 jack-o-lanterns are added to the mansion each Halloween and Christmas season. Not to mention thousands of feet of black holiday garland.

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3. Marvel villain Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) first lobbed his famous “pumpkin bombs” at Spider-Man and Fantastic Four’s Human Touch during a confrontation at the Avenue Dinner Club, and they have been a favorite weapon of his ever since. These versatile little jack-o-lantern shaped grenades have been used to blow up several buildings and landmarks, but have also been modified as such weapons as gas bombs and stun bombs.

15 Random and Geeky Facts About Pop Culture Pumpkins (2)

4. The mythical figure of a headless rider has been around since the Middle Ages, but they are usually seen either holding their severed head or missing it altogether. The jack-o-lantern head came into play in Washington Irving’s 1820 story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. It told of the fallen Hessian soldier frantically searching for his lost head but picking up a jack-o-lantern as temporary replacement and weapon. This depiction has been so popular thanks to sources like Walt Disney and Tim Burton, it is hard to think of him without that flaming pumpkin head.

5. The corner perch Jamie Lee Curtis’s character, Laurie, sits on holding a pumpkin in the 1978 John Carpenter film Halloween is still one that fans love to recreate on location. This Pasadena home is privately owned, but the owners have been known to leave a “prop pumpkin” in a bucket out front for those who want to sit on the same perch and snap a quick pic. Check out “sick pic” expert Justin Scarred’s visit to this and other Halloween filming locales:

6. In another famous themed horror film, Trick ‘r Treat, little pajama-wearing creepy enforcer of Halloween rules and regulations, Samhain, reveals he has a jack-o-lantern-like skull hidden beneath his burlap mask… which the film’s director Michael Dougherty described as “a cross between an embryo and pumpkin.” We never see the contents of Sam’s trick-or-treat goodie sack, but his pumpkin-shaped lollipop is always visible.

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7. The dark origins of classic nursery rhymes are often debated, and this includes the American rhyme of “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater,” who kept his wife stashed in a pumpkin shell. One source, The Odyssey, said this was a gruesome warning against disloyalty in marriage, where Peter’s wife is a prostitute. Apparently, cruelly stuffing a spouse in a pumpkin to hide them away was less frowned upon than getting a divorce.

8. Cinderella’s “Pumpkin Coach” marks an important pumpkin landmark in literature, as it said to be the first time the word “pumpkin” is used in a fairy tale. The word evolved from the world “pompion,” which in itself is an English translation of something French explorer Jacques Cartier said; he used the phrase “gros melons” to refer to his first seeing pumpkins in 1584.

9. The 13-issue, year-long fan-favorite comic series, Batman: The Long Halloween, debuted in 1996, featuring artist Tim Sale’s now-famous “Batman-mouthed jack-o-lantern” on the cover. Several elements of this story have been used in various television and movie Batman adaptations. An animated version of the actual story is currently in development with a possible release in 2021.

Here’s an easy template of the bat-pumpkin to get an early jump on the season.

15 Random and Geeky Facts About Pop Culture Pumpkins (3)

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10. Another classic tale featuring a pumpkin is the 1852 Nathaniel Hawthorne tale, Feathertop. “Feathertop” is the name of a pumpkin-headed scarecrow built by a witch to protect her garden… and for some reason decides to bring him to life with a “human” to woo the daughter of the judge. The daughter falls in love with him, until she faints after seeing his true reflection in a mirror. He doesn’t take this rejection well and kills himself. In the comic series Fables, Feathertop is recruited to help Snow White search for and bring Bigby Wolf to live in the Mundy (mortal human) world.

11. The bizarre tacky-suited Saturday Night Live character, David S. Pumpkins (portrayed by Tom Hanks), was introduced as part of the sketch “Haunted Elevator,” and was so well received by fans Hanks appeared later in the season for a “rap video,” and his own animated 30-minute special gained an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Sketch and a special seasonal “redress” for his wax figure at Madame Tussauds in Orlando. Not bad for a character wearing a $13 costume purchased from Party City.

12. The alternative band Smashing Pumpkins won’t often give a straight or serious answer to the origin of their name, although former bass player D’Arcy Wretzky said in a 1993 Washington Post interview it was “just a joke.” However, she did say the word “smashing” was not a verb but an adjective.

13. One of the main characters in L. Frank Baum’s second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz, is Jack Pumpkinhead, a tree-like wooden figure with a pumpkin jack-o-lantern for a head. Jack was first created as “scarecrow” by a little boy named Tip to scare Mombi, a witch holding him captive. However, when Mombi saw it, she used magic powder to bring him to life. He has appeared in animated and live-action Oz movies (including Return to Oz, where he was voiced by Brian Henson), and has even been a resistance or freedom fighter in some darker comic series such as in Fables or the 1995 Oz comic.

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14. There are many characters who were heavily influenced by Jack Pumpkinhead, and this includes the Marvel villain Lord Pumpkin, who was created by a wizard as a “playmate” for a bratty, abusive, medieval prince. The pumpkin finally rebelled and overthrew the kingdom, and travels around the various Marvel universes looking for worlds to conquer. Since he is an accomplished sorcerer and can breathe fire, he isn’t a pumpkin to be trifled with.

15. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman world has included dark and fascinating twists on everything from Biblical and mythical characters to emotions and folklore favorites. Mervyn Pumpkinhead, who looks like a working-class Jack Pumpkinhead, is the sarcastic head of demolition in the dreamworld, (aka The Dreaming). In one of Merv’s past European incarnations, he was depicted with a turnip for a head, which is a shout-out to the history of the jack-o-lantern, as they were first made from turnips before the practice was taken up in North America.

Whether we are ready for the haunts of Halloween, harvest season of fall, or are already tired of the onslaught of pumpkin spice flavored everything, the pumpkin has settled in for the season. The landscape—and storytelling—is all the more colorful for it.

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FAQs

What were pumpkins originally called? ›

The word “pumpkin” originates from “peopon,” which means “large melon” in Greek. It then evolved to “pompon” in French and “pumpion” in Britain. The Americans later changed it to “pumpkin,” the name we still use today.

When was the word pumpkin first used? ›

1. The word "pumpkin" showed up for the first time in the fairy tale Cinderella. A French explorer in 1584 first called them "gros melons," which was translated into English as "pompions," according to History. It wasn't until the 17th century that they were first referred to as pumpkins.

What were pumpkins originally used for? ›

Rather than using their nutritional and readily available seeds, pre-Columbian natives grew pumpkins for their flesh. They were among the first crops grown for human consumption in North America. Thanks to their solid, thick flesh, pumpkins proved ideal for storing during cold weather and in times of scarcity.

How many pumpkins are carved each year? ›

Let's take a closer look
20202018
FiguresFigures
Average price of a pumpkin$4.18$3.89
Percentage of Americans planning to carve pumpkins46%0.45
Number of Americans that plan to carve pumpkins151,947,727147,882,426
1 more row
Oct 7, 2021

What pumpkin symbolizes? ›

Along with creepy costumes, face makeup and spooky decorations, Pumpkins have become a symbol of Halloween all over the world. Symbolically, the pumpkin is often linked to rebirth and fertility, and they also symbolise harvests and crops. They fit the season in which Halloween falls every year.

How do pumpkins talk? ›

How to pronounce pumpkin - YouTube

What is the biggest pumpkin in the world? ›

World record in October 2021: 2,703 pounds

As of October 2021, the world record for largest giant pumpkin stands at 2,703 pounds. The massive squash was grown by Stefano Cutrupi in the Italian region of Tuscany. Cutrupi earned the crown at this year's European Pumpkin Weighing Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Which state grows most pumpkins? ›

Illinois harvests the largest share of pumpkin acreage among all States and an even larger share of processing acres.

How many pumpkins get wasted? ›

The pumpkin waste amounts to about 18,000 tons of pumpkin, including flesh and seeds. The research was done by Hubbub and Knorr. Their joint research found that 40% of UK consumers buy pumpkins to carve, but 60% report they do not use the pumpkin after carving and instead throw it out.

What are the top 5 pumpkin producing states? ›

As you are enjoying fall pumpkin treats, consider that every U.S. state produces pumpkins. However, the top five pumpkin producing states between 2016 and 2018 – Illinois, Texas, California, Indiana, and Pennsylvania – harvested about 40 percent of U.S. pumpkin acres, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

What does the nickname pumpkin mean? ›

Origin and usage

The word pumpkin is derived from the Greek word 'pepon' meaning 'melon'. In English, the word is an alteration of the Middle French word 'pompon', which also means 'melon'. Pumpkin came into the English language sometime during the 1640s.

Where did pumpkins come from in the Columbian Exchange? ›

Pumpkin is native to North America; it was brought to Europe as part of the “Columbian Exchange”.

Are pumpkins native to Ireland? ›

As we slide from September into October, the change in seasons sees many of us reaching for squash and pumpkin to bulk up our soups, stews and autumnal salads. Though they can grow here, these tough-shelled softies are not native to Ireland. So what's the story behind the squash and how did it end up on our shores?

When did Europe get pumpkins? ›

Pumpkins, or 'pumpions' as they were once called, came to Europe during the 16th century, were introduced to Tudor England by the French, and were incorporated into pie fillings quite quickly.

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