History of Cranberry
As a food native to North America, cranberries have traditionally been enjoyed by many native peoples throughout what is now the United States and Canada. Cranberries were originally given different names in various tribal languages, including the name "ibimi"—which meant bitter/sour berries—in Wampanoag and Lenni Lenape. The name "cranberry" came from much later observations by European colonizers of North America that the flowers of cranberry plants were shaped like the head and neck of sandhill cranes, which lead to the term "craneberry." The word "craneberry" was eventually shortened to "cranberry."
As the world's largest single producer of cranberries, the United States has a well-documented history of cranberry production. The key cranberry-producing states of Wisconsin (by far the largest producer) and Massachusetts (easily landing in second place) combined in 2016 to produce over 8 million barrels of cranberries. Approximately 1 million additional barrels were produced by the states of New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. Cranberry production in the U.S. has a rich family history and a high degree of continuity in comparison to many other areas of agricultural production. For example, cranberry marshes developed in the late 1800's and early 1900's around Manitowish Waters and Eagle River in Wisconsin remain productive to this day. In addition, some of the cranberry vines that currently produce cranberries are more than 100 years in age.
A surprisingly large number of cranberry varieties are grown within the U.S. (The total number of varieties is upward of 100.) These varieties are typically highly adapted to specific regions of the country and climate conditions. Examples of cranberry varieties include Ben Lear, Black Veil, Centerville, Champion, Gebhardt, Howes, McFarlin, Paradise, Potters, Pride, Searles, and Wales Henry.
It's worth noting how few cranberries are actually grown for fresh consumption. Only 5% of U.S. cranberries are sold fresh. The remaining 95% are sold for processing, mostly into cranberry juice, but also into dried, sweetened cranberries, and cranberry sauce.
On a worldwide basis, no country comes close to producing the number of cranberries as the United States, with the possible exception of Canada. In 2014, about 840 million pounds of cranberries were produced in the U.S., and about 388 million pounds were produced in Canada. Chile produced about 180 million pounds and a handful of other countries produced 10% or less of this Chilean amount. These additional countries included Belarus, Azerbaiijan, Latvia, and Romania.