The history of the Thanksgiving classic: pumpkin pie

Nov 7, 2022, 1:20 PM | Updated: 1:26 pm

Hurrah for the pumpkin pie! A Thanksgiving staple, the pumpkin pie has a unique and actually quite lengthy history.

According to history.com, pumpkins were first grown in Central America in 5,500 B.C. and were brought to Europe from the New World by European explorers. Their first mention in Europe dates to 1536.

So by the time the pilgrims landed in 1620, it’s likely some of them may have already been familiar with the squash.

While pumpkin pie was likely not served at the first thanksgiving, since both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag ate pumpkin regularly, it’s highly likely the squash was present in other forms.

By the late 1600s pumpkin pie made its appearance in cookbooks.

A 1653 French cookbook contained one of the earliest recipes of a “pumpkin pie” where milk-boiled pumpkins were strained and baked in a crust.

While recipes in the late 17th century in both England and New England described filling a hollowed-out pumpkin with sweetened milk or sliced apples and cooking it in a fire.

A 1670 recipe by an English woman, Hannah Woolley, involved filling a pie with layers of pumpkin, apple, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram.

By the 1700s, pumpkin pie had evolved into more of the pumpkin custard-filled pie we eat today.

“American Cookery,” a 1796 cook book by Amelia Simmons contained a pair of pumpkin pie recipes, one which seems to be the custard precedent to today’s version.

By 1842, pumpkin pie was mentioned in the famed, “Over the River and Through the Wood” poem by Lydia Maria Child: “Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done? Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!”

When Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 pumpkin pie was still only largely in the northern states and New England area.

Many southern confederates considered the new holiday to be an imposed “Yankee tradition,” and not all were fond of the new holiday.

However, after the holiday’s institution, the popularity of the pie and Thanksgiving menu spread until pumpkin pie had become a tradition.

By 1929, Libby’s meat-canning company of Chicago introduced a line of canned pumpkin, completely changing the process of roasting and straining one’s own squash to make pumpkin pie and replacing it with a cheaper, more convenient solution.

Today, pumpkin pie is considered essential to a Thanksgiving feast. Most people now wouldn’t dream of cutting up their own pumpkin to roast and then strain to use in the popular pie. With canned pumpkin, pumpkin spice, (which usually consists of  ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice,) an outer crust, and sometimes a dollop of whipped cream on top, the pie is ready to go.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by COSTCO DEALS (@costcodeals)

Those uninterested in cooking at all, head to Costco to get their famous, seasonal pumpkin pies.


KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) goes to the basket as Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes...
Ben Anderson, KSL KSL Sports

Ben Anderson: Yes, Lauri Markkanen will be an All-Star

The NBA is set to announce the All-Star reserves tonight on TNT at 5 pm MT, and Utah Jazz fans should expect Lauri Markkanen to hear his name called.
15 hours ago
Hill Air Force Base, Utah (Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey)...
Madison Swenson

Hill Air Force Base building evacuated due to ‘unusual smell’

A building at Hill Air Force Base was evacuated Thursday morning after an "unusual smell" was detected.
15 hours ago
FILE PHOTO - (Deseret News)...
Madison Swenson

Iron County woman arrested, charged after she was shot by police

A 37-year-old woman has been arrested after authorities say she pointed a pistol at officers in Iron County and they shot at her.
15 hours ago
After a contractor got paid, customers say he stopped responding and walked off the job. (KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

Felony charges for contractor accused of ripping off several Utahns

After a contractor got paid, customers say he stopped responding and walked off the job. A Get Gephardt investigation found this particular contractor has walked off so many jobs it could land him behind bars.
15 hours ago
Karah Brackin

Students across Utah come together to learn the importance of mental health care

Mental health, wellness and suicide prevention — they're all big topics of conversation, and more and more, those conversations include our kids. That's where Hope Squad is coming in to help.
15 hours ago
A man was flown to the hospital after he was hit by a garbage truck in Layton. (Layton Fire Departm...
Logan Stefanich

Man hit by garbage truck in Layton, flown to hospital

A man was taken to the hospital Thursday after being hit by a garbage truck near Hill Air Force Base, police said.
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
The history of the Thanksgiving classic: pumpkin pie