How Libby's Changed Pumpkin Pie Forever

If you have ever tried to make pumpkin pie from scratch using a pie pumpkin, you know it's a lot of work. For decades, cooks would select a pumpkin based on type and weight and turn it into a purée that would then be the filling for pie — that is until Libby's made the process much simpler.

To make a pie using a pumpkin requires multiple steps to transform the squash into a purée, according to Better Homes & Gardens. To get 1¾ cups purée, which is about the same amount as you'll find in a 15-ounce can of pumpkin purée, you'll need a 2½-pound pumpkin. To transform the squash into a smooth purée, you'll need to remove the seeds and pulp, cut the pumpkin into pieces, and then place the pieces on a baking sheet lined and covered with aluminum foil for about an hour. Once the flesh is soft, the pumpkin can be removed from the oven and left to cool until it's safe to handle. The final steps, according to Better Homes & Gardens, are to remove the flesh from the rind and purée it in a blender or food processor until smooth. Once you have a bowl full of purée, you can add your seasonings, including sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, ginger, eggs, evaporated milk, and salt, according to Food. 

Sound like a lot of work to make pumpkin pie the old-fashioned way? Thank Libby's for making the process a whole lot easier.

Canned pumpkin

According to History, the food canning company Libby's launched a new product in 1929 that would change Thanksgiving dinners forever: canned pumpkin. But the company's history goes back much further to a man from Eureka, Illinois named Elijah Dickinson who, with his brothers, managed three canning facilities as well as a pumpkin patch, all of which were eventually sold to Libby, McNeill & Libby in the late 1920s (via Medium). The Chicago-based company had only sold canned meats like corned beef up to that point, according to Bon Appétit.

Pumpkin pie became mainstream in 1929 when Libby's started to publish a recipe for pumpkin pie on its canned pie labels. That recipe was created by Mary Hale Martin, who Libby's had hired to create recipes for its canned goods. That very first recipe from Libby's was simple and called for only a few ingredients, making pumpkin pie more attainable for the home cook. Gone was the cutting, cleaning, roasting, and puréeing of the pumpkin. Libby's recipe advised the consumer to simply combine the canned pumpkin with eggs, milk, sugar, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon and pour into a crust. It wasn't until the 1950s that the recipe was updated to include ginger and evaporated milk.

As you bite into your next piece of pumpkin pie (with or without Cool Whip) give thanks to the Dickinson brothers and Libby's for making the delicious Thanksgiving tradition so much easier to enjoy.