Irish immigrants brought this tale to Maryland. The original tale starred a turnip instead of a pumpkin. Jon told our kids the story first over jack-o-lantern donuts at Krispy Kreme. Alex has been merrily quoting it back all week. "You better say sorry for pushing me Hannah! You don't want St. Peter to turn you away from heaven and end up like Jack."
I found it a useful catechism on the importance of good deeds and repentance for the pre-school set. I'm sure this is the reason many an Irish mom has repeated this morality tale for decades.