Every October the national TV news announces the heaviest American-grown pumpkin. This year, an 1161-kilogram (2,560 lb.) pumpkin named Maverick and grown by Travis Gienger of Anoka, Minnesota won the North American record. But this continental winner was no match for the world’s heaviest pumpkin weighing 1,226 kilograms (2,702 lb., 13.9 oz.) and grown by Stefano Cutrupi of Italy on September 26, 2021.
To more fully embrace my love for this winter squash as food, beverage, and ornament, I went on a hunt for global record holders in the field of pumpkin by delving into the Guinness World Records and pulling out my favorite winners that I had never heard of until now.
1. Largest Pumpkin Pie
The only thing missing from this huge pie is some whipped cream and my giant fork. The largest pumpkin pie 1,678 kilograms (3,699 lb.) was made in New Bremen, Ohio on September 25, 2010. The pie had a diameter of 6 meters (20 ft).
Skip to the 55 second mark for the reveal in the video below.
2. Largest Pumpkin Sculpture
If your local zombie walk on Halloween doesn’t satisfy your undead needs, have a look at the zombie apocalypse created from two huge pumpkins. Ray Villafane of New York carved his sculpture on October 22 and 23, 2011 at the New York Botanical Gardens. The pumpkins weighed 824.86 kilograms (1,818 lb. 5 oz) and 767.9 kilograms (1,693 lb.).
3. Longest Tunnel of Jack-O’-Lanterns
Who would have thought to make a tunnel of carved pumpkins? Well, the people of Croton-on-Hudson, New York did.
The record-setting Tunnel O’Pumpkin Love was assembled from 648 jack-o’-lanterns. Its measurements were 6.09 meters (20 ft) long, 4.26 meters (14 ft) wide, and 4.26 meters (14 ft) high. The accomplishment took over 25 nights from October 5 to November 11, 2013, during an event, called The Great Jack-O’-Lantern Blaze organized by the nonprofit Historic Hudson Valley.
While I couldn’t find the award-winning tunnel, the video below shows a tunnel of lit jack-o’-lanterns by the same event organizers. Skip to the 1 minute mark.
4. Most Lit Jack-O’-Lanterns on Display
This varied display of pumpkins included unique designs such as pumpkins carved to create a chess set and some Angry Birds. A total of 30,581 pumpkins were carved and lit to win the record for the largest jack-o’-lantern display. It was a community effort in the city of Keene, New Hampshire on October 19, 2013.
5. Farthest Distance to Fire a Pumpkin
Not since Halloween night in the ‘70s have I seen pumpkins propelled through the air. But the arm power of the neighborhood boys was focused more on destruction than distance.
I was amazed to find that a pumpkin was shot 1,690.24 meters (5,545.43 ft) in Moab, Utah on September 9, 2010. The record setters used what they called their “Big 10 Inch” air cannon. This feat was achieved by Americans Ralph J. Eschborn II, Alex C. Eschborn, Eric J. Eschborn, Pete Hill, Stefan Hill, John Piel, Verne Weidman, Don Brill, and Harry Harding.
While I couldn’t find the record-breaking video, I found the same group in their 2009 attempt. Skip to 2:12 minute mark for the canon firing.
6. Fastest 100 Meters in a Pumpkin
My love for all things pumpkin deepened after learning that my favorite winter squash can be not only a floatation device but also a form of transportation.
The record for the fastest 100 meters paddled while in a pumpkin was set by Dmitri Galitzine (UK) at Trafalgar Wharf, Portsmouth on May 23, 2013. It only took him 2 minutes and 0.3 seconds to paddle a pumpkin weighing 272.16 kilograms (600 lb.) using a standard kayak paddle.
7. Longest Journey by Pumpkin Boat (paddling)
Rick Swenson is the current record holder for the longest journey in a pumpkin boat. He paddled his hollowed-out pumpkin boat for 41.038 kilometers (25.5 mi). His journey started in Grand Forks, North Dakota at the Red River and ended 13 hours and 40 minutes later in Oslo, Minnesota on October 15, 2016.
While all these records were taken from the official website of the Guinness World Records, I did find news articles claiming that this pumpkin boat record had been broken by Duane Hansen of Nebraska on August 27, 2022. He paddled 61 kilometers (38 mi) on the Missouri River in a 384-kilogram (846 lb.) pumpkin he named S.S. Berta. The pumpkin took 5 years to grow, and Duane spent 12 hours propelling it down the river while dodging obstacles such as rocks, waves and sand bars.
For those newly inspired by the versatility of the pumpkin and the competitive drive to be the world’s best at all your pumpkin-related skills, know that some records in this field have not yet been set.
Carve yourself the largest, floating, two-seater pumpkin boat and you could be a winner. If you’re more skilled underwater than on top of it, consider becoming the world’s fastest underwater pumpkin carver. But learn quickly, some marine biology students at Northeastern University have been working hard at their pumpkin-carving skills.
You can also practice in Key Largo, Florida’s annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest.
After reading about these remarkable achievements with pumpkins, do you think you have what it takes to impress the folks at Guinness?