Cranberries are a wild native fruit to Cape Cod. It is well known that Native Americans introduced cranberries to early Cape Cod settlers and taught them how to use cranberries for medicinal purposes and to produce red dye. In the north village of Dennis, Henry Hall discovered cultivated cranberries by accident in 1816. After cutting a stand of trees north of his bog for firewood, a northern storm blew the exposed, native sands over his bog. Thinking his bog was ruined, Mr. Hall was amazed to find that his crop actually increased the following harvest. This event inspired Mr. Hall to move all of his cattle to “Molly’s Pasture” (the very same bog as Annie’s Crannies) and experiment with the cultivation of the native fruit. His timing was perfect. Shortly after Mr. Hall’s discovery the ship building industry slowed. Many sea captains and ship builders turned to growing cranberries to make a living. Dennis remained the cranberry cultivation center until 1850 when other cape towns joined in.
Dennis, Massachusetts was not only the birthplace of the cultivated cranberry, but to the invention and standardization of harvesting, packaging, and shipping equipment and practices. In 1868, Captain Warren Hall invented an improved cranberry gatherer. In 1876, Luther Hall (Henry Hall’s grandson), Zebina Hall and Captain William Crowell patented the cranberry picker. The most successful invention was William Crowell’s fruit box, patented in 1877, which is still used today for cranberries and other fruits. Dennis cranberry growers were also instrumental in standardizing the methodology for branding the variety, size, quality and durability of cranberries which became the in the 1880’s.
Thanks to Annie’s Crannies for this history of cranberry cultivation. You can read more about this amazing fruit at her website, http://anniescrannies.com