10 Facts About Thanksgiving
When you want to wow the guests around your Thanksgiving table, the surest way to do it is with some amazing Thanksgiving trivia. Show off your turkey day smarts with these 10 facts:
1. TV dinners were the product of Thanksgiving. In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving, by 26 TONS! Some industrious soul came up with a brilliant plan: Why not slice up the meat and repackage with some trimmings on the side? Thus, the first TV dinner was born.
2. There’s nothing more American than watching football on Thanksgiving Day! The tradition started in 1934 when the new owner of the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans moved the team to Detroit and decided to compete against the Tigers for their fan base. The Detroit Lions scheduled a game against defending world champions the Chicago Bears, and the game was such a huge success that they decided to do a game on Thanksgiving every year. There has been a game on Thanksgiving every year except for the period of 1939 to 1944, during World War II.
3. Black Friday shopping isn’t for plumbers. Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for them, according to Roto-Rooter, the nation’s largest plumbing service. Apparently all that food has to end up somewhere.
4. The night before Thanksgiving also means meeting up with old friends and family members and heading out to the local bar for many. The night before Thanksgiving is the biggest night of the year for bar sales, even bigger than New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, and The Super Bowl.
5. There are four places in the U.S. named Turkey. Louisiana’s Turkey Creek is the most populous, with 440 residents. There’s also Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. We can’t forget the two townships in Pennsylvania: the creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!
4. We have Abe Lincoln to be thankful for. He declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, due to the tireless efforts of a 74-year-old magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale had asked him to have a ‘day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.’ Lincoln responded by writing a Proclamation making the last Thursday of every November a National holiday dedicated to giving thanks for nature’s abundance and our individual and national blessings. She also wrote the nursery rhyme, “Mary had a Little Lamb.”
5. In 1947 President Truman started the tradition of selecting a turkey and sending it off to a farm somewhere to live out the rest of its life in peace. These days, two turkeys are selected and the people of the United States cast their votes to name them, then the President performs a public pardon.
6. Only male turkeys, called toms, gobble. Females, called hens, cackle.
7. The sheer volume of food consumed in the U.S. every Thanksgiving is staggering. 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving, accounting for one sixth of all turkeys sold in the U.S. each year.
8. In 1924, Macy’s employees marched six miles from Harlem to Herald’s Square to kick off the Christmas season. They dressed up as clowns, knights and cowboys and were accompanied by marching bands and live animals from the Central Park Zoo. The event was so successful that they have held a parade every year since and it is now the most popular holiday parade in North America. These days 3.5 million people show up to watch in New York City and 50 million people watch the event from home.
9. Turkey contains the essential amino acid L-Tryptophan, which does make you sleepy. However, there’s not enough tryptophan in a serving of turkey to cause drowsiness, and in order for tryptophan to really make you sleepy you need to eat it on an empty stomach, and that’s certainly going to happen on Thanksgiving! In reality, you probably get sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner because you eat a lot of food in a short period of time.
10. The first Thanksgiving was a 3-day harvest feast in 1621 attended by the English Protestant settlers (we call them Pilgrims, though they didn’t refer to themselves that way) and the native tribe of the Wampanoag near Plymouth, MA. The first feast didn’t resemble our modern Thanksgiving dinner at all; it was comprised of venison (deer meat), shellfish, and corn. Though there were plenty of wild turkeys in the area, reports vary about whether or not they were actually consumed at the feast, and most scholars agree that venison was the main course.