On April 14, we celebrate National Pecan Day, pecan — a uniquely American nut whose fan base counts the likes of founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Whether it’s a garnish on a salad or a stand-alone snack, caramelized or roasted, sweet or savory — pecans never fail to deliver on the enthralling taste and the ultimate nutrient density. Did you know, America is credited for 75% of the world’s total pecan production? This fun holiday was established by the National Pecan Shellers Association in 1966 to recognize and honor the workforce behind the cultivation of pecans in America.
History of National Pecan Day
On National Pecan Day, America celebrates the only nut native to its land. Pecans are a much-celebrated nut of America, used in deserts, icecreams, and snacks.
Centuries before European colonization, pecans were cultivated, processed, and consumed in America by Native people. The word ‘pecan’ is derived from the word ‘pacane,’ used by the Algonquin tribe to describe a nut that needs a stone to crack open. The tribes valued pecan for its nutrition density, availability, ease of consumption, and fulfilling taste.
In the late 17th century, the native nut caught the eye of Spanish colonists, who began cultivating large pecan orchards in the vicinity. But it wasn’t until the 18th century that the commercialization of pecans picked up the pace in the United States. By 1802, formal selling routes were established, and pecan export had commenced.
In 1882, a hybrid fruit via the budding of pecan and an adjacent wild plant was created by Abner Landrum, a cultivator from South Carolina. This resultant nut was considered to be an upgraded version of pecan. Although the hybrid seeds of Abner got lost in time, in 1876, the process of grafting was recreated by Antoine, a slave from Louisiana. Antoine presented his discovery at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1976 and thus began farming a new and improved variety of pecans throughout the country.
Today, America is responsible for three quarters of pecan production in the world. From the summer lanes of Texas to the sunny pavements of California, pecan cultivation is a year-long endeavor for thousands of American farmworkers.
In 1996, the National Pecan Shellers Association members came together to establish April 14 as National Pecan Day. The objective of the day is to celebrate the earthly wonders of this nut and to uplift the hardworking members of the industry who make the sustainable farming of pecans possible.
National Pecan Day timeline
Long Island farmers organize the first pecan plantation of pecan trees, propagating safe and easy ways of pecan plantation.
Founding Father George Washington plants a pecan tree in Mount Vernon, symbolizing the rapid popularity of pecans in America.
National Pecan Shellers Association is established to represent thousands of pecan farmers and shellers across the country
The National Pecan Shellers Association establishes National Pecan Day to honor the native nut of America.
National Pecan Day FAQs
How is 'pecan' pronounced?
The correct pronunciation of pecan is PEE-can. However, a majority of southern Americans like to say it as PA-kawn. How do you pronounce it?
Are pecan and walnut the same thing?
It’s easy to get confused, but walnuts and pecans are two different nuts from the same Junlandacea family. Walnut has a smooth exterior with a lighter color, unlike pecans, which have a chocolate brown color with definitive lines.
Can you eat pecan raw?
Yes! Pecans, like all other nuts, are edible in their raw form. You can carry a couple of these shelled nuts in your pocket to munch through the day, or you can scatter them on your salad for that extra crunch.
National Pecan Day Activities
Plan a pecan day
Indulge in the versatile offering of this great American nut by planning your menu around it. Start the day with fluffy pecan pancakes, then have butter pecan chicken for lunch. For a midday snack, enjoy a couple of candied pecans, and end your day with pecan-crusted salmon and some hot pecan pie.
Host a bake off
From cookies to pies, pecans go well with any baking dish. So for National Pecan Day, host a bakeoff with your friends and family — featuring our beloved pecans.
Plant a pecan tree in your backyard
Pecans are non-fuss plants that don’t require a liver and a half to take sapling. Plant the seeds today, so you can reap the nuts tomorrow.
5 Important Facts About Pecans
It’s a vitamin party
Pecans are home to 19 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.
It’s more than a crunch
Pecan oil, processed from pecans, is recommended for those with a risk of heart disease.
A friend to the heart
Pecans have the official certification of the American Heart Association for being a ‘Heart-Healthy Food.’
A love for centuries
A pecan tree grows to over 150 feet tall and lives for over 300 years.
A dose of pecan for Apollo
Astronauts carried pecans to the moon in their Apollo space mission twice.
Why We Love National Pecan Day
Pecans are underrated
The sweet and crunchy texture of a pecan elevates any dish it touches. Be it candies, cookies, bread, pie, salads, or ice cream. It’s time we honor the contribution of this humble nut in our kitchen and celebrate National Pecan Day with full excitement.
Pecans are the O.G. American nut
While cashew came to America from Brazil and the California almonds are actually a gift of Spain, pecan is the singular nut native to America. Pecans were widely consumed by native Americans before European colonization.
Pecans contribute to the economy
The American pecan industry is worth over $3.5 billion. Just 15 states of the U.S. produce more than 75% of pecan of the world. The pecan trees are responsible for the livelihoods of thousands of families and a flourishing U.S. economy.
National Pecan Day dates