Botanically, rhubarb is a vegetable, but in 1947 the US Customs Court ruled it to be a fruit, since that is how it is normally eaten. Rhubarb first became known in England in the 16th century for its medicinal properties. It did not begin to appear as an ingredient in cookery books until the beginning of the 19th century.
On 11 January 1770, Benjamin Franklin sent a consignment of rhubarb from London to John Bartram in Philadelphia. This was the first rhubarb in the United States.