Cranberries, concord grapes, and blueberries are the only native fruits of North America. All others came in various immigration waves ranging from Spaniards to English, Germans and assorted other nationalities.
Natives knew by experience about cranberry’s high acidity and food preservation qualities. They used cranberries in their pemmican, as a dye, and for medicinal purposes (cranberry juice is reputed to cure urinary tract inflammation).
Settles renamed this tough-skinned red berry crane berry, since in their minds it looked like the head of a Sandhill crane.
In time, the American navy started using cranberries to stave off scurvy on long voyages, as the British did with limes. Both are rich in vitamin C, but cranberries store better, and longer and happen to be more versatile.
A recent innovation is gelatine-treated cranberry pieces, which stabilizes the fruit, keeping it soft and chewy. Now cranberry fruit pieces are mixed into breakfast cereals, foods that tend to remain in the distribution system throughout North America for long periods.
Preserved cranberries (craisins) tastes great in muffins and can also be incorporated into cookies and breads.