Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon

Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon

Hardcover

$95.00
View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details

Overview

Why do so many Americans drive for miles each autumn to buy a vegetable that they are unlikely to eat? While most people around the world eat pumpkin throughout the year, North Americans reserve it for holiday pies and other desserts that celebrate the harvest season and the rural past. They decorate their houses with pumpkins every autumn and welcome Halloween trick-or-treaters with elaborately carved jack-o'-lanterns. Towns hold annual pumpkin festivals featuring giant pumpkins and carving contests, even though few have any historic ties to the crop.

In this fascinating cultural and natural history, Cindy Ott tells the story of the pumpkin. Beginning with the myth of the first Thanksgiving, she shows how Americans have used the pumpkin to fulfull their desire to maintain connections to nature and to the family farm of lore, and, ironically, how small farms and rural communities have been revitalized in the process. And while the pumpkin has inspired American myths and traditions, the pumpkin itself has changed because of the ways people have perceived, valued, and used it. Pumpkin is a smart and lively study of the deep meanings hidden in common things and their power to make profound changes in the world around us.

Visit the author's website for more information: http://www.pumpkincurioushistory.com/just-another-squash-12000-bce-to-1600.html

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780295991955
Publisher: University of Washington Press
Publication date: 09/12/2012
Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Cindy Ott is assistant professor of American studies at Saint Louis University.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Not Bread Alone William Cronon vii

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 3

1 Corn, Beans, and Just Another Squash 10,000 BCE to 1600 9

2 "The Times Wherein Old Pompion Was a Saint": From Pumpkin Beer to Pumpkin Pie, 1600 to 1799 32

3 Thoreau Sits On a Pumpkin: The Making of a Rural New England Icon, 1800 to 1860 57

4 "Wonderfully Grand and Colossal": The Pumpkin and the Nation, 1861 to 1899 85

5 Jack-O'-Lantern Smiles: Americans Celebrate the Fall Harvest with Pumpkins, 1900 to 1945 112

6 Atlantic Giants to Jack-Be-Littles: The Changing Nature of Pumpkins, 1946 to the Present 139

7 Pulling Up a Pig Sty to Put in a Pumpkin Patch: The Changing Nature of American Rural Economies, 1946 to the Present 165

Notes 199

Bibliography 269

Index 309

What People are Saying About This

Warren Belasco

From the symbolism of pumpkins in classical and medieval mythology, to locavores and harvest festivals, Ott's paean to pumpkins is important, entertaining, and enlightening.

William Cronon

An original, carefully researched, engagingly written, even playful and witty foray into the exploding field of food history by an up-and-coming star in the field. How appropriate that so delightful a vegetable has an equally delightful book to pay it tribute.

From the Publisher

"From the symbolism of pumpkins in classical and medieval mythology, to locavores and harvest festivals, Ott's paean to pumpkins is important, entertaining, and enlightening."—Warren Belasco, author of Food, the Key Concepts

"An original, carefully researched, engagingly written, even playful and witty foray into the exploding field of food history by an up-and-coming star in the field. How appropriate that so delightful a vegetable has an equally delightful book to pay it tribute."—William Cronon, from the Foreword

Customer Reviews