Cranberries, the Pine Barrens and John “Peg Leg” Webb

Photo By Scott O’Donnell

In the 1840’s in the small Pine Barrens town of Cassville, in Ocean County, NJ lived a 50 year old one legged School teacher who saw an opportunity, cranberries. John “Peg Leg” Webb was his name and cranberries became his game.

Mr. Webb tamed the wild perennial vine creating one of the first commercial cranberry operations in America. Webb’s fruit commanded top dollar, $50.00 a barrel from whaling ships in Philadelphia. Sailing ships took cranberries out to sea so the crew could snack upon the Vitamin C laden, scurvy preventing tart treats. Premium prices were paid for Webb’s quality, why did Webb’s barrels contain no bad berries? Well, the one legged Webb was unable to carry the barrels of cranberries down from the storage attic. So he simply tipped the barrels and let the berries bounce down the stairs. Webb had discovered that healthy cranberries bounced! Only the best cranberries made it to the bottom of the stairs, he had accidentally invented the “Bounce Board” still used today to determine Cranberry quality.

From this beginning grew a New Jersey industry that peaked in 1910 with 12,000 acres of Cranberry bogs. Today NJ ranks third in production with 3,600 acres, behind Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

More cranberry history and fun facts, from Ocean Spray.

Cranberry recipes from Piney Power.

Tom Kovacevich is in the wholesale fruit and vegetable business in Philadelphia. His company, TMK Produce, distributes top quality produce to retailers and food service companies up and down the east coast. In 2008, Tom started a blog at as a way to share his thoughts on what fruits are best each month. Geared for consumers, also offers tips on how to select and prepare the fruits being recommended. An avid cook, gardener and all around foodie, Tom regularly travels the world meeting with growers ever learning more about his passion for fresh produce.