VII: Pumpkin

What does it take to grow a cow-sized pumpkin?

Various breeds of pumpkin. Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash
Various breeds of pumpkin. Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is septidi, the 17th of Vendémiaire, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate la citrouille, the very symbol of Halloween.

Pumpkin carving for Halloween took off in popularity in 17th century England, but the original jack o'lantern wasn't a pumpkin at all. Based on a Celtic folk tale about a man who tried to trick a demon and was punished by being turned into a ghost with only a single glowing coal to guide him through the night, this "Jack of the lantern" traditionally held his burning coal inside a hollowed out turnip!

Three days ago, a man in New York weighed his pumpkin. This, in itself, is unremarkable, but the scale read 2,480 pounds (1,125 kg), making it the 11th largest unbroken pumpkin ever grown (and weighed) (and then that weight written down).

The heaviest on record was grown by Stefano Cutrupi in Italy, bloating a gourd to an astounding 2,702 pounds (1,226 kg). It's not pretty. At all. But it weighs as much as five pigs. So that's something.

Pumpkins are the biggest fruits in the world, so it's natural curiosity that leads to growing the biggest of the biggest and keeping track of that. But what goes into making an enormous pumpkin?