80 percent of America's canned pumpkin comes from one Illinois town

Illustration for article titled 80 percent of Americas canned pumpkin comes from one Illinois town

Starbucks can keep its Pumpkin(less) Spice Lattes. We, as a nation, get our real festive fix from pumpkin pies—and we've got one small town to thank for that. Morton, Illinois provides Americans with 80 percent of the deliciously globby, straight-from-a-can pumpkin filling that we gobble down a few months of the year.


The Libby's brand has been in business since 1869—originally for corned beef!—but didn't start getting serious about pumpkins until the 1950s; now the booming enterprise is owned by sweet-stuff megacorp Nestle USA (which, as parent company to Toll House and Carnation, is a major enabler of a good chunk of your holiday baking).

Illustration for article titled 80 percent of Americas canned pumpkin comes from one Illinois town

From August to November, millions of oblong winter squash make their way from contract farmers to the company's cannery in what is now the Pumpkin Capital of the World—a title taken from nearby Eureka—for smooshing, canning, and distribution. Amazingly, there are no additives whatsoever, just pure orange-colored goo. Thousands of acres in the region are also planted with pumpkin seeds, in soil that "drains well, has a good nitrogen content, and has a little bit of sand in it," according to operations manager Steve Buettel.

So this year when you're fixing up your favorite recipe—'tis the season, already! —give a little nod to the good folks in Morton who make the whole thing possible. [Manufacturing Business Technology via @nicolatwilley]

Photos via the Associated Press

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You missed one of the coolest things about it - how they unload the trucks.

They're long flatbed trucks and they back up onto a platform. The front of the platform rises up and the pumpkins roll right out onto the conveyor belt. From there they get washed and checked for "unpleasantness". Then the yummy part of the pumpkin gets mashed up and cooked in giant kettles.

Interestingly they operate the plant only about 4 months out of the year. They start canning around July/August (depending on how the growing season goes) and finish just before Thanksgiving.

Source: I've been there and seen the action. I also knew someone who did the cooking every year.