It’s that time of the year again, everywhere you look there are signs of Halloween approaching. Year after year Halloween becomes more and more significant in American culture. Retailers have entire sections of their stores dedicated to Halloween and now there are stores dedicated entirely to Halloween! There are jack-o-lanterns, candy, and decorations at these stores. Most people don’t think a lot about how these things get to their local stores on time.
Nearly 90 million pounds of chocolate is sold around Halloween time and almost 35 million pounds of candy corn is manufactured every year. Americans spend $2.6 billion on 600 million pounds of candy every year. All that candy is hauled by professional drivers across the country. Treats like chocolate and candy apples need to be transported in refrigerated freights so that the candy doesn’t melt on its way to the stores.
Just like the candy on the shelves, professional drivers had a hand in getting your pumpkins to you as well. Before they are jack-o-lanterns the pumpkins had to be inspected, picked and transported to its final destination. There are a lot of steps needed to get your pumpkins to you in time for Halloween.
Once the pumpkins are harvested, they need to be precooled, which is the rapid removal of field heat from freshly harvested fruit. The most common method of precooling is room cooling, this involves storing the pumpkins in a room with cold air passing through a fan.
Pumpkins are then cured, holding them at a temperature and humidity to help ripen the fruit and harden the rind so the pumpkins are better protected during transportation. Once the pumpkins are cured, they will stay fresh for around 3 months, which is plenty of time for them to be delivered to stores and sold. The pumpkins are then sorted and packed, usually into cardboard cartons to help protect the fruit.
Like candy, pumpkins need to be kept at a cool enough temperature throughout the shipment to keep their quality, if the trailer is too hot the pumpkins will rot. It is also important to avoid low temperatures as well, any temperature under 50 degrees can cause chilling injury and lead to sunken pits of the pumpkin’s surface. To avoid rotting and chilling injury, pumpkins are transported in temperature-controlled trucks that can maintain the proper temperature until they reach their destination.