Seven Surprising Facts About Huckleberries

Huckleberry bush with blue and red huckleberries on branches

At Rocky Mountain Soda Co., we like to think we’re on the leading edge of advances in the soda pop industry. That starts with our beverages being vegan and gluten-free, but it doesn’t stop there. We’re also always on the lookout for exciting, and perhaps offbeat, flavors that others don’t offer. Huckleberry is a good example. Huckleberries have a mild, slightly sweet flavor that reminds a lot of people of blueberries. We’ve found the huckleberry makes an outstanding soda flavor and our customers have responded in kind.

Interesting Facts About Huckleberries

To celebrate our latest taste sensation we decided to take a close look at the huckleberry and its origins along with some fun, little-known facts about it.

The huckleberry is native to the Americas and grows naturally throughout the mountainous regions of North America, as well as in the Andes mountains of South America. The fruit of the huckleberry shrub is, of course, edible and resembles blueberries in both appearance and flavor.

With the encyclopedia stuff out of the way let’s take a look at some off-the-beaten-track facts about huckleberries you probably don’t know.

Huckleberries are typically harvested in August

Huckleberries grow wild in mountainous regions at altitudes between 2,000 and 11,000 feet. They ripen in the late summer and are usually harvested in mid-to-late August. In the US one of the best places for harvesting wild huckleberries is the area around Glacier National Park in northern Montana.

It should be noted that “harvesting” in this case is not done with huge machines, but rather by dedicated teams of intrepid souls who scour the landscape harvesting the often hard-to-find wild huckleberry by hand.

Huckleberry made its way into American slang during the 19th century

Slang is an ever-changing aspect of American English and what is in vogue today will be totally passé tomorrow. Nonetheless for about a hundred years beginning in the 19th century, the huckleberry found its way into the lexicon in the form of the following phrases:

  • “I’m your huckleberry” - Somewhere along the line the phrase “I’m your huckleberry” came to mean “I’m the right guy/girl for the job”. No one is quite sure how this inconspicuous blueberry-like fruit came to be acquainted with job qualifications but for the better part of a century the phrase was in common use, particularly throughout the American West and South.
  • “I’ll be your huckleberry” - This is related to “I’m your huckleberry” in the sense that it too is about qualifications. It means that the person uttering the phrase is willing to do whatever task, however tough or menial, the person they’re talking to has in mind.
  • “My huckleberry friend” - Probably the most popular example of this phrase is a line from the Andy Williams (ask your grandparents) song “Moon River”. A huckleberry friend is thought to be someone with whom you have had an idyllic sort of friendship. One that is carefree and innocent. Some believe the salient reference is to the relationship between Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in the Mark Twain novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Wild huckleberries are not easy to find

While they grow wild in mountainous regions throughout North and South America actually finding wild huckleberries is an arduous task that requires venturing into some truly out-of-the-way places. You’ll probably have to do some climbing in order to find wild huckleberry bushes. Maybe quite a bit of climbing. And even if you arrive in a place where they grow wild you might miss them because the huckleberry bush is pretty small, typically about waist height.

If you decide to pursue wild huckleberries, be careful!

Humans are not the only mammals that are fond of huckleberries. Both black bears and grizzly bears love huckleberries too. So if you’re in some out-of-the-way place in the Montana countryside in search of huckleberries be careful! Especially around the hours of sunrise and sunset when bears tend to go foraging for these all-natural tasty treats.

Huckleberry is the official state fruit of Montana and Idaho

While huckleberries can be found in many locations throughout the lower 48 states the people of Montana and Idaho feel a particular affinity for them. So much so that residents of both those states have decided to make the huckleberry their official state fruit. Actually, the huckleberry has been the official state fruit of Idaho for decades, but only became the official state fruit of Montana in May 2023. Maybe they were feeling left out.

Huckleberries are rebels

Whereas just about every other type of fruit and vegetable has taken to domestication without much fuss the wild huckleberry wants nothing to do with being tied down. Researchers have in fact been trying for many years to domesticate the wild huckleberry with little success. Your best chance of copping some is still to find them in the wild.

Huckleberries are expensive

Because they resist cultivation because they are difficult to track down, and because huckleberry harvesters sometimes have to fend off bears, moose, and cougars in search of their favorite fruit, that pint of huckleberries is going to cost you a pretty penny at the market. In fact, they can cost five or six times as much per pound as apples. Sometimes a lot more. As much as $65 or $70 per pound.

Try Our Hayden Huckleberry Soda!

The huckleberry has long played an important role in American culture. We at Rocky Mountain Soda are proud to offer our delicious and all-natural Hayden Huckleberry Soda to our valued customers. Try some yourself and see the difference our commitment to quality makes. And remember our all-natural sodas are always kosher, vegan, and contain no GMOs.