The historical cranberry

The cranberry (primarily, Vaccinium macrocarpon) is native to North America and is one of the few fruits found by settlers of New England. The Cape Cod Pequots Native Americans called them 'ibimi' which meant bitter berry. The German and Dutch settlers called the cranberry 'crane berry' due to the resemblance of the stem to a crane’s head and beak. Some early Americans called them 'jump berries' because of their bounce when dropped.

The cranberry played an important role for the Native Americans as an ingredient in pemmican (salted venison, cranberries and suet -- pounded together with big rocks). Some European settlers noticed cranberries right away. The cranberry’s presence is documented by the early Pilgrim settlers who came to Massachusetts. But commercial exploitation didn't begin until the early 1800s. Cranberry harvest played an important role as a source of nutrients, calories and income to many coastal inhabitants of the young US, notably so to the early New Jersey shore-men.