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A Berry-filled History

The Cranberry Business Begins

Cranberry Trivia





Coloring Book Pages (pdf):

The Cranberry Bounce Test

Jaypeg Eating Cranberries


A Berry-filled History
November 2002

They’re tart. They’re tangy. And most people couldn’t imagine a Thanksgiving meal without them on the table. But have you ever wondered where cranberries come from and how they end up on your dinner table? Read on and you’ll find some interesting facts to wow your family over dinner.

Believe it or not, the cranberry has been playing a role in New Jersey history since the Lenni Lenape first came to the area thousands of years ago. The Lenni Lenape didn’t call it a cranberry; they called the fruit “pakim,” or bitter berry. They used cranberries for food, medicine, dyes, and as a sign of peace during tribal peace feasts. photo of a cranberry bog

One of their favorite meals to make with cranberries was pemmican. They mixed cranberries with deer meat, mashed everything together, shaped it into a cake, and dried it in the sun. Pemmican was considered a convenience food because it stayed fresh for a long time, like a bag of potato chips today.

Cranberries didn’t get their name until German and Dutch settlers arrived. They called them “crane berries” because vine blossoms resembled the neck, head, and bill of a crane. Over the years the name got shortened to cranberry.

Did you know it was against the law to pick cranberries before season in New Jersey? In 1789 the state legislature passed a law saying anyone found picking cranberries before October 10 would be fined 10 shillings, which was the money America used then.

Next: The Cranberry Business Begins

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