Produce-ing Pumpkins: Stephen Katzman Reflects on Generations of a Family Tradition in the Produce Industry

“I first remember my father bringing a pumpkin home from work when I was six years old,” says Stephen Katzman, Owner and President at S. Katzman Produce. “My sister and I looked forward to it every year.”

For many families, October marks the season of apple picking, carved pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns, but fall traditions looked a little different in the Katzman household growing up.

As the third generation in the family produce business, Katzman grew up knowing Thanksgiving and the holiday season as the busiest time of year. It wasn’t uncommon that he’d barely see his father or grandfather for weeks on end as they tirelessly worked early mornings and late nights to prepare for the holiday rush, to ensure they could supply produce for customers’ dinner tables, and turn a profit to keep food on theirs.

“In the midst of busy season though, a year never went by that we didn’t take a quick pause to decorate a produce pumpkin together.”

Every year, the Katzman family decorated pumpkins by adorning them with produce from the family business, bringing their creations to life with colorful and nutritious ingredients. Using turnips and Brussels sprouts for the eyes, carrots or parsnips for the nose, flat beans for the mouth, peppers for the ears, kale for the hair, and some parsley mixed in to keep the squirrels away, the Katzmans’ pumpkins were anything but ordinary, and became an anticipated annual family tradition. (And yes, one where playing with food was encouraged!).   

“When my wife Marlene and I became parents, it was natural to pass the tradition down to our kids, Stefanie, Cheryl, Sam, and Robert. They loved being able to eat and play with the produce as we decorated the pumpkin, and then posing with it in their Halloween costumes for photos each year.”

Today, the tradition has made its way down to the fifth generation of the family, to Katzman’s three grandchildren. Cheryl and her husband Paul’s children Danny, Addie and Matthew, who are all five and under, affectionately call the pumpkin ‘Sammy,’ after their great-great-grandfather Samuel, who started the family produce business and whom S. Katzman Produce is named after.

“Fortunately, times have changed and I’ve been able to see my children and grandchildren even during the busiest of seasons, a luxury that my father and grandfather didn’t have. But no matter what, we honor their memory and take a moment together each year to decorate ‘Sammy the Produce Pumpkin’ and keep the family tradition alive.”


About S. Katzman Produce

S. Katzman Produce is a leading wholesaler/distributor based out of NYC. A family business with 100+ years of partnership with its valued suppliers and customers, S. Katzman Produce is SQF-certified and provides a full range of fruits, vegetables, berries, specialties, merchandising services, and offerings throughout the United States. For more information, please visit or call +1 718-991-4700.