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Interesting Thanksgiving Facts

There is a lot more to Thanksgiving then good food, family, and football! With Thanksgiving only a few days away, here are some interesting facts you may not know about this special holiday….

Some popular Thanksgiving statistics:

  • 91 % of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • About 280 million turkeys are sold annually for Thanksgiving, which is about 7 billion pounds of turkey and about 3 billion dollars’ worth of sales.
  • About 20% of all cranberries that are consumed in the US per year are eaten on Thanksgiving.

How did Thanksgiving become a national holiday?

Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor and author of the popular nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” campaigned for nearly 20 years to get Thanksgiving made into a national holiday. Her campaign spanned five presidents before she found one that was open to her idea in Abraham Lincoln. She was able to convince Lincoln that it would be a good idea to help unify the country once the Civil War ended. On October 3rd, 1863 Lincoln decided to declare the last Thursday in November as a national Thanksgiving holiday. Prior to this, the only national holidays that existed in the US were Independence Day and Washington’s Birthday.

What was actually served at the first Thanksgiving?

The only things that are known to have been served on the first Thanksgiving were deer, various types of fowl, flint corn, cod, bass, and other types of fish.

Why do we eat what we eat on Thanksgiving?

Sara Josepha Hale not only had Thanksgiving declared as a holiday but she also wrote numerous editorials that were widely circulated outlining various recipes to be used for Thanksgiving dinner. These included many things that likely would not have been served at the original Thanksgiving but today are traditional largely thanks to her, such as: turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes.

Why are turkeys called turkeys?

In the 16th century, when North American turkeys were first introduced in-mass to Europe, there was another bird that was popularly imported throughout Europe and England, called a guinea fowl. This guinea fowl was imported from Madagascar via the Ottoman Empire. The merchants who did this were known as “turkey merchants”. The guinea fowl themselves eventually were popularly referred to as “turkey fowl” similar to how other product imported through the Ottoman Empire acquired their names. The North American turkey was thought by many to be a species of the type of guinea fowl that was imported via the Ottoman Empire, and thus began also being called a turkey fowl which was eventually shortened to just turkey.

Fun Facts:

  • The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds!
  • Each year, the average American eats somewhere between 16-18 pounds of turkey.
  • Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
  • The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds.
  • The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey is as a sandwich, in stew, chili or soup, casseroles and as a burger.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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