Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Winner 2002

The Winning Pumpkin

This year, the winning pumpkin in Half Moon Bay’s annual Safeway World Champion Pumpkin Weigh-off broke the all time US record at 2560 pounds.

What is going on with pumpkins? Here are some other U.S. record vegetable sizes:

  • largest zucchini ever: 115 lbs
  • largest butternut squash ever: 104.5 lbs
  • largest tomato ever: 10 lbs 12.7 oz
  • largest broccoli ever: 35 lbs

Excuse me? The largest pumpkin weighs about 233 times as much as the largest tomato? The biggest of big pumpkins weigh well over a ton! About as heavy as a Mini Cooper. No other vegetable comes close.

(What about fruit, you say? And technically the pumpkin is a fruit, so that is a fair question. Were you going to guess watermelon? No such luck. The largest watermelon ever grown in the US was 350.5 pounds.)


Good genes. The variety that grows so big is called the Atlantic Giant. It’s not good to eat — too watery. It’s not great to carve — it flattens out as it grows. But it does get very, very big and heavy without bursting from its own weight like the tomatoes and other fruits and veggies do. And it’s able to channel a huge amount of water — pumpkins are mostly water — through its unique fibrous stem. Techniques are here, if you’re ambitious to grow a giant, go for it!

Half Moon Bay holds the “superbowl of pumpkin weight contest” every year. For 49 years (starting a year after the Art & Pumpkin Festival), pumpkin enthusiasts have trucked in their mega-gourds to discover who’s got the biggest of all. And this year a farmer named Travis Gienger from Minnesota rolled in with a 2,560 lb pumpkin (a little off the world record of 2,702 lbs by a farmer in Italy last year).

Of course, the pumpkin weighing was live-streamed over a Cruzio connection. It was thrilling!

And maybe it’s not surprising that the record’s been broken again. Winning pumpkins have been getting bigger and bigger. Check out the chart below, showing the sizes of pumpkins growing massively each decade.

chart of half moon bay champion pumpkin sizes