How Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin became a major hit?

Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin

Adapted from the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was broadcast as a prime-time television special in 1966.

It was the third Peanuts special, which was broadcast on Halloween.

Peanuts great pumpkin and its myth came into being as one the character believed the pumpkin to be magical.

Linus believed that just like Santa Claus did on Christmas, on Halloween, the “Great Pumpkin” “rises out of the pumpkin patch and flies through the air and brings toys to all the children in the world.”

Of course, Santa has reindeers, but Linus’s imagination started this myth of the great pumpkin and its powers to provide gifts.

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” Has all its best characters Linus (as mentioned), Lucy, Sally, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Pig-Pen (also the dust left behind by him).

The Story of the Great Pumpkin  

The story starts with Linus and Lucy in the pumpkin patch. Linus cuts a pumpkin from its roots and carries it back to the home. At home, Lucy chops the pumpkin and takes out its insides, to which Linus cries that she killed the pumpkin.

The irony is Linus, in fact, killed the pumpkin when he separated it from its roots.

Linus writes a letter to the great pumpkin, of which everyone is skeptical of especially Lucy, but Sally supports him as she is infatuated with Linus.

Charlie Brown receives an invitation to go to Violet’s party, but Lucy thinks it’s not for him and was delivered to Charlie Brown by some fluke. They all get dressed to go to the party; Lucy dresses up as a witch and the rest as ghosts.

Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin

Charlie Brown manages to cut up more holes than required to make a ghost costume and looks like cheese. He rubs in Pig-Pen’s dust cloud and manages to look like a ghost.

Linus and Sally ditch the gang and go to the pumpkin patch to look for the great pumpkin. They see a shadow in the patch; Linus thinks it’s the great pumpkin and faints.

Sally gets furious that they had wasted the whole night looking for the great pumpkin and have not gone to trick or treat.

Linus wakes up, and when they return. The rest of the gang managed to accumulate a lot of candy except for Charlie Brown, who only got rocks. Snoopy hides in the apple basket and kisses sally by accident when she tries to take an apple. Sally gets disgusted and screams, “my lips touched a dog’s lips.”

Later that night, Linus again makes his way to the pumpkin patch, still believing that the great pumpkin exists. He takes his blanket and lays there waiting, hoping that the shadow he saw earlier was indeed the great pumpkin. He stays till 4 am in the morning and falls asleep in the pumpkin patch.

Lucy then wakes up and sees that Linus is not in his bed. She then goes to the pumpkin patch and carries her brother, freezing in the cold home.

In the morning, Linus is embarrassed by his actions. Charlie Brown tries to comfort him that he also has his fair share of embarrassing moments and believes in things that aren’t true.

To which Linus gets furious and says that the great pumpkin does, in fact, exist, and he will go to the pumpkin patch again next year.

Pumpkins Significance in American Culture

Cindy Ott, a historian, says the selection was natural. In the “Object Analysis of the Giant Pumpkin,” she wrote that Americans use the “nature and rustic rural life as a refuge and a source for powerful stories to explain who they are.”

The colossal orange field pumpkin, which helps “people’s concepts of wild nature”.

Merchants around the country took notice of the endless reports in farm journals and seed catalogs about mammoths’ enormous size and weight, Ott says. “They took notice of the spectacle the giant pumpkin engendered and displayed them in their shops.”

At that time, Americans viewed the North American orange field pumpkin with no interest due to its bland flavor and soupy flesh. As the country transitioned from a rural to an industrial nation, the orange field pumpkin’s mythology began to develop.

Great Pumpkin
Various plants (Cucurbitaceae): a) Cucumber (Cucumis sativus); b) Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima). Chromolithograph, published in 1891

The Major reasons for “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” success

The Simpsons episode “Treehouse of Horror” also shows the great pumpkin, but in that episode, the pumpkin does appear. Milhouse believes it exits, he cries in the pumpkin patch, and the great pumpkin pops out from the ground.

The pumpkin says, “Your child-like belief has brought me to life.” The episode is hilarious but inspired by the original “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

After the show, the great pumpkin became a myth; there is even a cult dedicated to the mythical creature called “Cult of the Great Pumpkin.” They believe that the great pumpkin should be recognized just like Santa Claus or Easter Bunny.

CBS wanted a blockbuster; they wanted a show they could air every year on Halloween, and it’s the great pumpkin managed to accomplish that.

Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin

Did the show create a mythical creature?

Charles M. Schulz (writer of peanuts classics) brought forth the character of the great pumpkin to symbolize how other mythical characters such as Santa Clause have taken over the holidays.

He knowingly or unknowingly created a mythical creature for Halloween. Halloween is based on dressing up as a ghost or something scary and gory.

As exciting as Halloween is, it still does not have a single mythical character representing it as Christmas or Easter does. But there is also the question does every holiday needs a specific character to represent it?

I mean, Thanksgiving doesn’t need a magical turkey that lays golden eggs and brings good luck (what can I say? I have a vivid imagination).

Maybe that is why Charlie Brown only got rocks as the bad kids got coal on Christmas. But then again, Charlie Brown cannot be characterized as a bad kid.

Hence every festive occasion does not need a mythical character to represent it. Maybe it is because the great pumpkin didn’t turn into a creature symbolizing Halloween. However, pumpkins are a big part of Halloween nonetheless.

Though “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” did manage to create that fantasy for people.

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