Besides LabSim, the folks at TestOut are known for their fun-loving natures. The company holds an annual bowling event (that is hotly contested); goes running, biking, and hiking together each summer; tackles cooperative fitness challenges; and sits down to a classy Christmas party where everyone is puttin’ on the Ritz.
The one holiday that truly inspires a sense of all-out, pedal-to-the-metal go-big-or-go-home festivity is Halloween. It seems like every employee dresses up in garishly outlandish costumes and decorates their offices, followed by a catered lunch where awards for the best costume(s) and office decorations and presented.
Everyone follows that up by doling out handfuls of candy to more than 200 company-affiliated children, who are also impressively costumed as everything from Batman to Princess Jasmine. There pizza and donuts for everyone after that, and then anyone who still has the energy can go home for the day and take their kids trick-or-treating. It’s a fun day for all.
One esoteric aspect of TestOut’s Halloween celebration is the annual Largest Pumpkin Contest. Beginning in late spring, green-thumbed employees spend months lovingly nurturing their carrot-colored squashes with the hope of achieving mammoth proportions. The world-record for heaviest pumpkin is 2,624 pounds, and while no employee has yet come close to challenging that achievement, over the years several have surpassed the 500-pound mark.
Growing giant pumpkins is not for the faint of heart. Legion are the tales told by disappointed growers. Their laments range from “No matter what I did, it just wouldn’t grow,” to, “I can’t believe we dropped the whopping thing when it was being loaded.”
As always, 2017 brought a grapple of the gargantuan gourds that was exciting for participants and spectators alike. Pumpkins of all sizes are a mainstay of fall in America. Along those lines, here are 13 little known, but impressive, facts about these symbols of All Hallows Eve:
- Based on archeological and botanical evidence, pumpkins likely originated in the highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico.
- They were cultivated more than 12,000 years ago; making it the oldest domesticated plant on Earth.
- When Europeans first saw pumpkins, they thought they looked like melons and called them “pompoms,” French for melon. The word soon evolved to what we use today.
- Lacking access to wheat and barley to make beer, early settlers in North America used pumpkins as a substitute. (Take that all you namby-pamby nibblers on pumpkin muffins, or sippers of pumpkin-spiced lattes.
- The first recorded recipe for pumpkin pie appeared in the cookbook, “American Cookery,” in 1796.
- The largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds.
- It was in the 19th Century that the pumpkin became the enduring image of the fall harvest.
- S. growers produce 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin annually.
- Pumpkins are good for you. A serving contains potassium, Vitamin A and fiber and has only .5 grams of fat.
- An average pumpkin contains approximately 500 seeds — a good source of protein.
- There are 30 different varieties of pumpkins. The one we enjoy eating is the Small Sugar pumpkin.
- 19th-century Americans believed pumpkins could cure snake bites, freckles, facial wrinkles, and urinary troubles in men.
- The week after Halloween, Delaware hosts the “World Champion Pumpkin Chunkin” contest where pumpkins are shot out of pneumatic cannons. The competition record for distance is 4,694.68 feet. The world record for shooting a pumpkin through the air is 5,545.43 feet, accomplished right here in Utah in 2010. Although many deem the Utah shot to have been accomplished unfairly, on account of the “higher, thinner, drier air in Utah (which) provided less resistance and drag, thus the greater range.”
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Calvin likes to smash giant pumpkins with a baseball bat.