SIDNEY – The celebration of Thanksgiving traditions date back to 1621, making it one of America’s oldest and most beloved annual holidays. A story of overcoming extreme hardship, the holiday has become a cultural touchstone for most Americans and is one of the biggest travel days of the year. It is also considered by many to be the official start of the winter holiday season.
You can impress your guests with the following trivia questions. Just make sure to share the information before everyone has stuffed their faces and gone into food coma!
Question: Can turkeys fly? Answer: It’s a common myth that turkeys can’t fly (most likely because they feed on the ground) but but wild turkeys have been known to fly up to 55 mph in short bursts. For domesticated turkeys, this is unfortunately not the case. They’re bred to be heavier in weight, almost twice as much as a wild turkey so they won’t be flying anytime soon.
Which brings us to one of the funniest TV shows about Thanksgiving turkeys ever produced. Check it out on YouTube by searching for the WKRP Turkey Drop episode or at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiSkjcl9yW4.
Question: When was the first Thanksgiving celebration? Answer: For the Pilgrims, giving thanks was a regular part of their religion. But to the disappointment of visitors, these were days of prayer, not days of feasting. Our national holiday feast began in the autumn of 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest.
Question: What meats were served at the first Thanksgiving celebration? Answer: There are only two surviving documents that reference the original Thanksgiving harvest meal. They describe a feast of freshly killed deer, assorted wildfowl, a bounty of cod and bass, and flint, a native variety of corn harvested by the Native Americans, which was eaten as corn bread and porridge. What was missing at a Pilgrim meal was a fork, since they used spoons and knives as well as their hands. Hope they had lots of napkins!
Question: Where are most turkeys raised? Answer: Most of our turkeys come from Minnesota where around 46 million birds are delivered annually. North Carolina comes in second at 32 million and then Arkansas at 30.5 million. Ohio ranks ninth nationally in turkey production with nearly 278 million pounds of turkey produced.
Question: Are turkeys in short supply? Answer: Not really, but they will cost you more. Why? All poultry prices are rising because the grain they eat is harder to get this year. Pumpkin pie is also a premium, because of the double whammy of a fungus that devastated the Illinois pumpkin harvest and a shortage of magnesium from China which made it hard to produce aluminum cans.
On a lighter side, the beloved cranberry has a test to ensure freshness that also might get the kids to think food preparation can be fun.
Question: How do you know those cranberries are fresh? Answer: Your mother (and maybe the principal) may have told you not to throw your food, but with cranberries, bouncing them on a hard surface is the ultimate freshness test. Fresh cranberries have air pockets inside that give them that bounce. Besides, as you have heard previously, cans for that jellied cranberry sauce are also more expensive. So, no need to serve a quivering pipe-shaped lump when you can make fresh cranberry sauce.
Question: Which President made turkey pardoning an annual event? Answer: George H.W Busch is credited with the official annual “pardoning” of White House turkeys, but this interesting White House tradition has captured the imagination of the public for a long time. Some say it was President Lincoln, who in the depths of a devastating Civil War in 1863, granted clemency to a turkey. Guess he had to find something to celebrate.
Where it got a little crazy was in 1914, when anyone could give the president a turkey. Often the poultry gifts were decorated with symbols of patriotism, partisanship, and humor. In 1921, an American Legion post affixed bunting to the crate of a their turkey offering, as it traveled from Mississippi to Washington. A Chicago girls club outfitted a turkey as a flying ace, complete with goggles. The turkey gifts had become established as a national symbol of good cheer.
Beware: The next question might make us despair of our waist line while we eat it all anyway. Question: How many calories on average are consumed, per person, at Thanksgiving dinner? Answer: 4,500. The biggest calorie bomb is pecan pie, weighing in at 503 calories a slice, compared to the 316 calories for pumpkin pie and 411 calories for apple pie. But hey, on the bright side, pecans have “good fat” (including omega-3s) and contain more antioxidants-compounds that sweep up tissue-damaging free radicals-than any other tree nut. Pecans also contain the mineral zinc, which may help combat colds.
The one person who gets a caloric break is the person who prepares the meal. Anyone who has created a Thanksgiving dinner knows that it takes about 4 ½ hour to complete. From turkey to gravy, sides and dessert, with a cook chopping, stuffing and rubbing, the entire day can burn about 700 calories!
Question: How much did the world’s most expensive Thanksgiving dinner on record cost? Answer:$150,000 at New York City’s Old Homestead Steakhouse. The expensive meal feeds 12 and is made with the finest ingredients available including a 25-pound free-range turkey basted in imported olive oil and covered in edible gold, bread and pork stuffing made with $475-per-pound pork from Japan and served with gravy infused with a $3,300 Pappy Van Winkle bottle of bourbon.
Question: When was the first Thanksgiving NFL game? Answer: NFL Football has been a Thanksgiving tradition since the team that would become the Detroit Lions played their first game in 1934. It was the team’s first year in Detroit after a local radio executive, George A. Richards, had purchased the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans and moved the team to Detroit.
Question: Which President made Thanksgiving a permanent national holiday? Answer: That’s a little complicated. The date for Thanksgiving has been a bit of a movable target, dependent on the interests of each era. It all started in 1789, when President George Washington issued a proclamation designating November 26 as a national day of thanksgiving to recognize the role of providence in creating the new United States and the new federal Constitution.
Abraham Lincoln declared in 1863 that Thanksgiving fall on the fourth Thursday of November. But in order to stimulate the economy and extend the holiday shopping season during tough times, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date in 1939 to the third Thursday. It stayed that way for two years until Roosevelt moved it back to the fourth Thursday, where it stands today.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.