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Home » Santa Clarita News » Fun Facts Behind Thanksgiving Tradition

Fun Facts Behind Thanksgiving Tradition

600px-Turkey_bird_20070326We all know Thanksgiving is about food, but how well do you know the history of Thanksgiving tradition?

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What year did the Pilgrims arrive in America?


Which tribe of Indians did the Pilgrims share Thanksgiving meal with?

The Wampanoag Indians

In which year was the first Thanksgiving?

1621 *Having a thanksgiving feast was not a new idea at the time

What are two items historians know were eaten at the first Thanksgiving?

Venison and wild fowl (lobster, seal, and swans are plausible)

What did the Pilgrims have for dessert that Thanksgiving?

They probably didn’t have anything sweet, because their sugar supply had likely dwindled during their time in America.

Where was the first Thanksgiving celebrated?

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Which commonly used utensil did the Pilgrims not have for Thanksgiving dinner?

Forks; they used knives, spoons, and their fingers

Thanksgiving_1900Which state is the largest consumer of turkey on Thanksgiving?


Who wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the U.S.?

Benjamin Franklin  * But it was Thomas Jefferson who opposed him. It is believed that Franklin then named the male turkey as ‘tom’ to spite Jefferson.

Which president set the fourth Thursday in November as the national day for Thanksgiving?

Abraham Lincoln

How many days did the first Thanksgiving celebration last?

3 days

What drink did the Pilgrims bring with them on the Mayflower?


What day is Thanksgiving celebrated in Canada?

The second Monday in October

When did the presidential turkey pardon officially begin?

In 1989, President George H. W. Bush’s first Thanksgiving in the White House

What is the flap of skin over the turkey’s beak called?

A snood

What are baby turkeys called?


Which was the first president to declare Thanksgiving a holiday?

George Washington

How many turkeys were expected to be raised in the U.S. this year?

248 million

Here are some fun Thanksgiving numbers:

46.5 million
The preliminary estimate of turkeys
Minnesota expected to raise in 2011. The Gopher State was tops in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (30.0 million), Arkansas (30.0 million), Missouri (18.0 million), Indiana (16.0 million), and Virginia (15.5 million). These six states together would probably account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkeys produced in 2011.

750 million pounds
The forecast for
U.S. cranberry production in 2011. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 430 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (210 million). New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 17 million to 54 million pounds.

2.4 billion pounds
The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2010.
North Carolina (972 million pounds) produced more sweet potatoes than any other state. It was followed by California (639 million pounds) and Louisiana (247 million pounds).

1.1 billion pounds
Total production of pumpkins produced in the major pumpkin-producing states in 2010.
Illinois led the country by producing 427 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, New York, and Ohio also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $117 million.

If you prefer cherry pie, you will be pleased to learn that the nation’s forecasted tart cherry production for 2011 totals 266.1 million pounds, up 40 percent from 2010’s total. Of this 2011 total, the overwhelming majority (210.0 million) will be produced in Michigan.

2.01 billion bushels
The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls, and pie crust — produced in the
United States in 2011. North Dakota, Montana, and Kansas accounted for 33 percent of the nation’s wheat production.

656,340 tons
The 2011 contracted production of snap (green) beans in major snap (green) bean-producing states. Of this total,
Wisconsin led all states (258,320 tons). Many Americans consider green bean casserole a traditional Thanksgiving dish.

$7.8 million
The value of
U.S. imports of live turkeys from January through July of 2011 — 99.7 percent from Canada. When it comes to sweet potatoes, the Dominican Republic was the source of 60.1 percent ($3.2 million) of total imports ($5.3 million). The United States ran a $3.6 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had a surplus of $41.7 million in sweet potatoes.

13.3 pounds
The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2009, with a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time. Per capita sweet potato consumption was 5.3 pounds.

$3.6 billion
The value of turkeys shipped in 2002.
Arkansas led the way in turkey shipments, with $581.5 million, followed by Virginia ($544.2 million) and North Carolina ($453 million). In 2002, poultry businesses whose primary product was turkey totaled 35 establishments, employing about 17,000 people.

$4.1 billion
Forecast 2010 receipts to farmers from turkey sales. This exceeds the total receipts from sales of products such as barley, oats, sorghum (combined) and peanuts.

Retail cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2010.

Number of places in the
United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey Creek, La., was the most populous in 2010, with 441 residents, followed by Turkey, Texas (421), Turkey Creek, Ariz (294), and Turkey, N.C. (292). There are also 11 townships around the country named Turkey, three in Kansas.

Number of places and townships in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the red, acidic berry (e.g., Cranbury, N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry township (
Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2010, with 28,098 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next (6,685).

Number of places in the
United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 70,576 residents in 2010; Plymouth, Mass., had 56,468. There is just one township in the United States named “Pilgrim.” Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 132 in 2010. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,234 in 2010.

116.7 million
Number of households across the nation–all potential gathering places for people to celebrate the holiday.

To read more about these and other Thanksgiving facts, visit the websites listed below:

Fun Facts Behind Thanksgiving Tradition

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