The Company Behind Almost 85% Of The World's Canned Pumpkin

Canning food changed the way the world ate. It is widely believed that Nicolas Francois Appert invented the concept of canning food in the early 1800s for the purpose of keeping it safe to eat for extended periods of time. Throughout the mid to late 19th century, his process was followed and expanded upon by corporate giants like Heinz and Campbell, offering much of the world access to canned foods, according to History. Throughout the year, Americans typically have several types of canned foods in their pantries, but during the holiday season, they tend to clamor for one fruit in particular: pumpkin.

The recipe options that use canned pumpkin are endless, particularly beginning in October. From breads and pastas to pancakes and cocktails, home and professional cooks can always find something to do with a can of pumpkin puree. Although it can be found year-round, it's during the last months of the year that canned pumpkin is virtually everywhere.

You might be surprised to know that most canned pumpkin comes from the same place. All companies have competition, but one in particular, out of Chicago, Illinois, has the edge on pumpkin canners around the world. In fact, there's about an 85% chance that the can of pumpkin you buy this year for your Thanksgiving pie comes from this company that's been around for 150 years.

Libby's takes the cake

When Libby's started canning meat in their Illinois factory in 1869, it's unlikely they knew that they would eventually be known around the world as the company associated with pumpkin pie. According to Libby's, the company was busy in its early days focusing on their meats, including the iconic corned beef.

Tucked into an unusual trapezoid-shaped can, Libby's corned beef was a part of American soldiers' emergency ration kits in World War I. Their meats won awards and Libby's continued to stay on top of its game even when various other canned goods companies came onto the scene.

By the late 1920s, Libby's began canning fruits and vegetables, including pumpkin. This made complete sense as the fruit is plentiful and grows beautifully in Illinois (Libby's home state) due to the warm, dry summers and well-drained soil.

The conditions for growing pumpkins in Illinois are so prime that The Associated Press reports that the majority of the canned pumpkin in the world comes from this area of the United States, with Libby's producing a whopping 85% of the total. And on the back of every label of their canned pumpkin comes their famous pumpkin pie recipe, developed by Mary Hale Martin in 1929. According to Bon Appetit, what made the recipe so popular and ideal is that it is simple and ready in about an hour.

Though equated with pumpkin, Libby's still produces canned meat, juices, condiments, and even frozen fruits in Illinois, and in factories around the country and world.