In Season: Perfect for Halloween celebrations, the pumpkin is available in October The name "pumpkin" comes from the Greek word pepon, which means "large melon." Quite fitting, actually, since pumpkins are a fruit, not a vegetable. Pumpkins have been grown in America for over 5,000 years and were used by Native Americans for food, medicine, and crafts. The first jack o' lantern, however was actually made out of a turnip! Used in favorite seasonal desserts, pumpkin was once used only as an ingredient in piecrust, not filling! While you enjoy your pumpkin pie, remember that canned pumpkin contains more vitamin A than any other canned fruit or vegetable-just a half-cup has more than three times the recommended daily requirement.