- The Plate
Bitter Berries: The Historic Battle for Cranberry Power Bars
The deflated Thoreau finally paid off his $100 debt by selling pencils from the family pencil factory.
The berry that so disappointed Thoreau is—like the Concord grape and the blueberry—a native American fruit. Though it has relatives abroad—among them Vaccinium oxycoccos, the European cranberry, and Vaccinium vitis-idaea, the lingonberry—the American cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is by far the biggest and most impressive of the bunch. Known to the Wampanoag of Massachusetts as ibimi-bitter berries, cranberries were used as food and medicine by the native tribes of what is now the northern United States and Canada. The Inuktitut smoked cranberry leaves like tobacco; the Cree used the boiled berries to dye porcupine quills; and the Chippewa used cranberries as bait to trap snowshoe hares.