- The National Turkey Federation (NTF) estimates that approximately 45 million turkeys are eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas, and 19 million at Easter.
- 95 percent of Americans surveyed by the NTF eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
- The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds – that’s about 675 million pounds of turkey consumed in the U.S. on Thanksgiving.
- The top five most popular ways to serve leftover Thanksgiving turkey are: sandwiches, soups or stews, salads, casseroles and stir-fry.
- Think turkey causes sleepiness after the Thanksgiving meal? Think again! Recent studies have shown that it is more likely the large, carbohydrate-rich meal rather than just the turkey. The meal releases tryptophans in the brain, causing drowsiness.
- For over 50 years, the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the U.S. with a live turkey and two dressed turkeys in celebration of Thanksgiving. Harry Truman was the first president to receive this honor in 1947. Each year, the live turkey is “pardoned” by the president and most recently has been flown to Disneyworld to serve as the grand marshal of the Disneyworld Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- Early explorers to the New World quickly acquired a taste for turkey and took birds back to Europe. By the 1500s, turkeys were being raised domestically in Italy, France and England. When the Pilgrims and other settlers arrived in America, they were already familiar with raising and eating turkey and naturally included turkey as part of their Thanksgiving feast.
- Some experts think the first Thanksgiving dinner was served by the Pilgrims in 1621. Others credit the settlers of Virginia’s Jamestown with celebrating the first Thanksgiving as their version of England’s Harvest Home Festival.
- President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, supposedly as a response to a campaign organized by magazine editor Sara Joseph Hale. In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day forward one week, as it is presently celebrated.
- When Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin sat down for their first meal on the moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all the trimmings.
- Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as the official United States bird. Dismayed by news of the selection of the bald eagle, Franklin replied, “The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original of America.”
- June is National Turkey Lovers Month.
- More than 25 percent of U.S. households consume turkey deli meat at least once every two weeks.
- Turkeys have approximately 3,500 feathers at maturity.
- The costume worn by Big Bird on Sesame Street is rumored to be made of turkey feathers.
- Turkey feather down is sometimes used to make pillows.
- Domesticated turkeys often appear less cunning and more docile as compared to wild turkeys, whose survival depends on their adjustment to a less protective environment.
- Domesticated turkeys cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 miles per hour and can run 20 miles per hour.
- Only tom turkeys gobble. Hen turkeys make a clicking noise.
- A large group of turkeys is called a flock.
- A baby turkey is called a poult and is tan and brown.
- Turkey eggs are tan with brown specks and are larger than chicken eggs.
- The “caruncle” on a turkey is the red-pink fleshy growth on the head and upper neck.
- The “snood” is a long, red, fleshy growth from the base of the beak that hangs down over the beard.
- The “wattle” is the bright red appendage at the neck.
- The “beard” is a black lock of hair found on the chest of a male turkey.
- More Turkey History and Trivia