The Reason Behind Eating Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving

The largest pumpkin pie ever made weighed 3,699 lbs and was 20 feet long!

Thanksgiving is celebrated with a grand feast of roast turkey and pumpkin pie, but have you ever wondered why pumpkin pie is the dessert of choice instead of apple pie?

In this article, we will delve into the history of thanksgiving and explore the significance of this delicious treat.

Why Choose Pumpkin Pie?

Pumpkin pie is a popular choice for thanksgiving for various reasons, including the season and history.

In the United States, thanksgiving marks the start of the fall season, and this is celebrated with seasonal food.

Pumpkin and squash are abundant during the fall in North America and Canada, making them a cost-effective and accessible crop to use.

An estimated 50 million pumpkin pies are consumed in the United States every year for thanksgiving.

Why Not Apple Pie?

Pumpkin and squash were a staple in the diet of Northeastern Native American tribes.

Pumpkins are native to the western hemisphere and have been cultivated for over 9,000 years, making them one of the oldest crops in history.

Pumpkins were not only a staple crop but also considered sacred and used for rituals and celebrations by Native tribes across North America.

As technology has advanced, pumpkin farming has become more industrialized, and 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins were harvested in the United States in 2018 alone.

Where Did the Tradition Originate?

During the first thanksgiving celebration between the Wampanoag Tribe and Plymouth Colonists in New England in 1621, pumpkin was served in various forms, including pies made from the fruit.

The settlers were introduced to pumpkin by the Native Americans and learned how to cook and prepare them.

The tradition of serving pumpkin pie at thanksgiving is believed to have originated from this celebration.

Has the Recipe Changed?

The first recorded recipe for pumpkin pie was created by French chef Francois Pierre la Varenne.

The famous recipe book, “Le Vrai Cuisinier Francois” or “The True French Cook” gained popularity due to its author’s recipe for pumpkin pie. This 17th Century cookbook was one of the first to record the recipe for this dessert, which was later translated into English in 1653. One recipe from the book calls for boiling pumpkin with milk, then mixing it with sugar, butter, salt, and stamped almonds before baking it in pastry and sprinkling it with sugar. This recipe became the basis for the pumpkin pies we eat today at Thanksgiving.

The recipe for pumpkin pie evolved over time, with English-written American cookbooks featuring the dish as “Pumpion Pie.” Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves became popular spices, while some recipes included apples and raisins. Today, most pumpkin pie recipes still use the basic ingredients of pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, butter, and pastry crust.

In 2010, a new world record was set for the largest pumpkin pie. Bakers used 2,796 eggs, 525 pounds of sugar, and 1,212 pounds of canned pumpkin to create a 20-foot diameter pie at the New Bremen Pumpkin fest in Ohio. The pie also used 109 gallons of evaporated milk, 14.5 pounds of cinnamon, and 7 pounds of salt, with 440 sheets of dough for the crust.

Pumpkin pie is an important part of Thanksgiving tradition and symbolizes the cultivation of pumpkins and squashes by Native Americans. These vegetables have been a part of the diet for thousands of years due to their abundance and affordability. The creation of pumpkin pie was guided by Native Americans and continues to be an important part of Thanksgiving celebrations.


1. What is the history behind pumpkin pie being a traditional Thanksgiving dessert?

Pumpkin pie has been a Thanksgiving dessert for centuries. It is believed that the first pumpkin pie was made by the Pilgrims in 1621 for the first Thanksgiving feast. Pumpkins were plentiful in the New World, and the Pilgrims had learned how to make pies from the Native Americans. However, the first pumpkin pies were not sweetened and were more like a savory dish. It wasn’t until the 18th century that pumpkin pie became a sweet dessert with the addition of sugar and spices.

2. What are the ingredients in a traditional pumpkin pie?

A traditional pumpkin pie is made with pumpkin puree, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. The pumpkin should be roasted and pureed before being added to the pie filling. The eggs and sweetened condensed milk give the pie its creamy texture, while the spices give it its signature flavor. Some recipes also call for a pie crust made from scratch, but a store-bought crust can also be used.

3. Can pumpkin pie be made without dairy?

Yes, pumpkin pie can be made without dairy. Instead of sweetened condensed milk, a dairy-free milk such as almond milk or coconut milk can be used. The eggs can also be replaced with a vegan egg substitute. The taste and texture of the pie may differ slightly from a traditional pumpkin pie, but it will still be delicious!

4. Is pumpkin pie healthy?

While pumpkin itself is a nutritious food, the addition of sugar and a pie crust make pumpkin pie a calorie-dense dessert. However, there are ways to make a healthier version of pumpkin pie. Using a whole grain crust or skipping the crust altogether can reduce the calorie count. Reducing the amount of sugar in the recipe or using a sugar substitute can also make the pie healthier. Adding in extra spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg can give the pie flavor without adding extra calories.

5. Can pumpkin pie be frozen?

Yes, pumpkin pie can be frozen. Once the pie has cooled, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in the freezer. It can be stored in the freezer for up to two months. When ready to serve, thaw the pie in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat it in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes.

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