When a kid’s only Thanksgiving job is to pick up the cranberry sauce from the store, maybe he or she wonders how it’s made, where it came from, and why we eat it on Thanksgiving. Honestly, though, his or her thoughts might be on how well-deserved this break from school is, when a new significant other is finally going to meet the parents, or how many likes their Thanksgiving dinner Instagram photo will get.Cranberries probably aren’t on the brain. Yet, the benefits of the fruit are much older even than the Thanksgiving tradition itself. While the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621, Native Americans had been using cranberries for food, dyes, medicine, and bait for trapping snowshoe hares since 1550 or before.
Cranberries have a slew of reported health benefits, like treating urinary tract infections and helping protect against cancer due to their antioxidant properties. The bogs these superfoods are grown in are located in states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the only experience most people have with these unique ecosystems is through television advertisements for Ocean Spray with two wholesome-looking men laughing and standing knee-deep in the red fruits.
We’ve rounded up 10 things you might not have known about cranberries and the unique bogs they come from here. Consider these facts the next time you’re popping open the cranberry sauce.