Girl carrying boxes of cranberries to loading station, Burlington County, New Jersey (Three-fourths of the cranberry pickers are children) / Oct. 1938 / Arthur Rothstein, photographer (b&w film nitrate neg.) LC-USF33- 002856-M3
According to legend, a one-legged New Jersey schoolteacher named John (Peg Leg) Webb was the first to bounce cranberries down a flight of stairs to determine their freshness. The squishy ones never made it to the bottom. You can try this yourself.
-- Jonathan Reynolds, The New York Times
The cranberry is native to New Jersey and a traditional side on the Thanksgiving table. Because they contain so much air they are sometimes called "bounceberries."
Burlington County is the state's major cranberry producing area and New Jersey is the third largest cranberry producing state in the US. Before 1960 berries were picked by hand using a comb-like scoop -- it was time-consuming and labor intensive. In the 1960s a new method was developed in Chatsworth, NJ: fields are flooded with water and a tractor-like machine called an "egg-beater" knocks the berries off their vines. Because the cranberries float, they can be corralled to one section of the bog and pushed onto a conveyer belt.