This Illinois Town Calls Itself The 'Pumpkin Capital Of The World'

Pumpkins are a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are right around the corner. In fact, according to History, the practice of carving up these round orange squash, which are indigenous to the United States and have become synonymous with fall season, began after Irish immigrants made their way to North America. Today, pumpkins are a massive business. 

Per Good Housekeeping, the United States produces 1.5 billion pumpkins every year with Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California leading the way as the biggest producers. And every part of this fruit is edible — including the seeds, leaves, skin, guts, and all. Of course, these beauties are not without controversy. World Economic Forum notes that 25% of pumpkins in the U.K. end up in the trash, which is the equivalent of 360 million slices of pumpkin pie (translation: unnecessary food waste).

Per the United States Department of Agriculture, Illinois upped the amount of acreage used for growing pumpkins in 2020, giving the state a total of 15,900 acres, which is double the amount of each of the other states that cultivate the most pumpkins. As such, Illinois can clearly call itself the Great Pumpkin State. But even if the entire state doesn't use that moniker, per CBS Chicago, one city within its borders has dubbed itself the "pumpkin capital of the world."

Morton, Illinois is all about the pumpkins

CBS Chicago shares that Morton, Illinois has anointed itself the "pumpkin capital of the world," but is it just hyperbole? The news outlet goes on to share that Floydada, Texas also calls itself the "pumpkin capital of the world." So the news station went to an expert, Village of Morton President Ronald Rainson who confirmed that the title rightfully belongs to Morton because, like Muhammad Ali once said, "It's not bragging if you can back it up." And back it up Rainson did. He said, "We have a canning plant here that cans more than 82% of the canned pumpkin in the world. It's owned by Nestle and this is where they do it all. There are pumpkin farms surrounding this whole area." So, take that Floydada!

So when did Morton gain this coveted moniker? Per the Morton Pumpkin Festival, the title was bestowed on the city in 1978 by the Governor of Illinois. Today, the festival estimates that more than 75,000 guests attend the event each September, and there's even a Punkin Chuckin' contest where, as Rainson told CBS Chicago, "usually we put an old car out there and [the pumpkin catapults] will blow the doors right off the car."

Still not convinced? Then consider this data from the USDA: In 2020, the state of Illinois yielded 564 million pounds of pumpkin, which is equal to the total of the other top five states combined. That's a lot of pumpkin!