Giant Artichoke (Castroville, California)

Giant Artichoke in Castroville, California

Naturally low expectations are not unexpected for a restaurant that attracts tourists with a giant artichoke, but there’s a rich farming history behind Castroville, California’s Giant Artichoke.

It was Spanish settlers who originally brought artichokes to California, and the first artichoke fields in the state were just south of San Francisco near the town of Half Moon Bay in the early part of the 1920s. A little further down the coast there was something of a blossoming love for artichokes happening at the nearly the same time. In 1922, Andrew Molera planted the first artichoke shoots in Castroville and several members of the small coastal community quickly followed suit.

By 1923, there were nine artichoke growers, and within four short years there were more than 50 growers and 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) of artichokes growing in Castroville and the Monterey Bay area.

In a region so long in love with the Artichoke, is it any real surprise that there’s a giant artichoke statue outside an artichoke themed restaurant?

Castroville Artichoke Facts

  • The city bills itself as the “Artichoke Center of the World”
  • Castroville holds an annual two-day Artichoke Festival every year in May
  • Marilyn Monroe was crowned the 1st Honorary Artichoke Queen in 1948
  • Sally DeSante Hebert was crowned the 1st Festival Artichoke Queen in 1961
  • Andrew O’Desky, the first Artichoke King in wasn’t crowned till 1974