Everything You Need to Know About America's Favorite Canned Pumpkin
There's a reason everyone grabs Libby's for the holidays.
Sure, you could cut open a pumpkin, scrape out the seeds and pulp, bake the flesh and puree it yourself to make a pumpkin pie, but you could also do what almost every chef and home cook does instead — and open a can. When Libby’s canned pumpkin hit the market in the 1920s, pumpkin pie became a heck of a lot easier to make. And once the company started printing its now-famous pie recipe on the back of its cans in the 1950s, a bona fide Thanksgiving star was born.
Today, Libby’s (based in Morton, IL, since 1929) is still the biggest name in canned pumpkin: It produces 85% of the canned pumpkin in America, enough to make roughly 90 million pumpkin pies every year! Meanwhile, the Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe on the can has been many families’ go-to for generations. In 2019, the company daringly introduced a recipe for New Fashioned Pumpkin Pie made with sweetened condensed milk, claiming it results in a creamier pie. Loyal fans weren’t impressed, but they couldn’t complain: Libby’s kept the original recipe on every can, too (see photo above).
Libby's is Not Technically Pumpkin
Or at least not the pumpkin you’re imagining. The only ingredient in a can of Libby’s is a strain of golden-fleshed Dickinson squash, which is thicker and creamier than the flesh inside a typical jack-o’-lantern. The FDA has OK’d the use of the term pumpkin.
Canned Pumpkin is Good for Dogs
It’s high in fiber and low in fat, so it’s a popular treat for pups — it can even help with digestion. Just make sure not to confuse pure pumpkin with canned pumpkin pie filling: The pie filling contains sugar, spices and other add-ins that aren’t good for furry friends.
Pumpkin Shortages Are Real!
Poor harvests in Illinois resulted in a canned pumpkin shortage in 2009, with Libby’s largely absent from shelves around Thanksgiving. Panic ensued, and fears of another shortage tend to surface every few years.
“Canned pumpkin is for sure one of the store-bought items that compares to homemade. I use it in my Thanksgiving pies.”
Katie Lee Biegel
“Mama ain’t got time to make homemade pumpkin puree! I’m canned all the way.”
“I love using canned pumpkin for pumpkin bread and in pasta sauces. It’s instant fall in a can!”
All text written by Francesca Cocchi for Food Network Magazine.
Puppy photograph courtesy of Getty Images.
Dickinson Squash photograph courtesy of AP Images.