NEW YORK—Rockefeller Plaza was decked out in Thanksgiving style on Tuesday at Ocean Spray’s sixth annual Big Apple Bog. A 1,500 square-foot bog filled with 2,000 pounds of floating cranberries was the setting for a 50-foot long dinner table for an early Thanksgiving feast for 45 lucky school children. The brand’s cranberry sauce and juice have been an American staple for 80 years and are particularly familiar on thanksgiving tables.
The cranberry producer’s own growers were demonstrating how the fruit is harvested in the water, in a lifelike bog complete with two tons of floating cranberries. At center stage, 45 New York public school kids, also donning waders and rubber boots, were guests to a pre-Thanksgiving meal organized by Ocean Spray.
The event, hosted this year by television icon Martha Stewart, as part of her show on Hallmark Channel, was a kick-off to the Families feeding Families campaign in partnership with national nonprofit Share Our Strength, to raise awareness about childhood hunger in America.
"Every child deserves a seat at the table," said Martha Stewart. "Today is about pledging to help people live better by providing children with access to the food they need to live healthy, active lives."
The event also had educational value, being an opportunity for these young Americans to learn interesting facts about the healthy fruit. Ocean Spray Chief Operating Officer Ken Romanzi explained, “Cranberries are one of the three original fruits in North America, with blueberries and the Concord grape."
"The Native Americans used to use them as food, dyes, and medicine, and they introduced cranberries to the pilgrims for the first Thanksgiving; way back then they knew about their anti-bacterial properties. They used to put the cranberries on a fire, (and) they rubbed them on arrow wounds.” said Romanzi.
Another interesting fact about cranberries is that “sailors used to use them on long voyages for their high vitamin C content to ward off scurvy: they also lasted a long time (stored) in dark barrels in the hull of the ship.” added Romanzi.
Schools can schedule visits at Ocean Spray bogs and see the harvest. “A lot of schools come and visit,” said Mr. Romanzi, adding they have “a program where they plant a little bog in a cup: they are able to grow their own little cranberry plant in a cup, and they will grow!”
Ocean Spray is an agricultural cooperative owned by more than 700 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and other parts of Canada, as well as more than 50 Florida grapefruit growers, according to a press release. Share Our Strength ensures children in need are enrolled in federal programs, invests in community organizations fighting hunger, and teaches families how to cook healthy meals on a budget. Visit Strength.org to help in its “No Kids Hungry” campaign—a national effort to end childhood hunger in America by 2015.