10 Fun Facts about Thanksgiving

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This Thanksgiving, use these fun facts to get the conversation going via Zoom, phone, or in person.

10 Fun Facts about Thanksgiving

Karen DiDonato ⋅ November 19, 2020

Thanksgiving may look quite different this year for many people. We’re having atypical conversations with family and friends about how to better social distance during the holiday, or even how we can share a virtual meal over Zoom. Some people are choosing to enjoy a small Thanksgiving with only the people who live in their households instead of traveling to larger gatherings. Regardless of how you plan to celebrate this year, Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

We’ve compiled a list of 10 facts that are sure to get the conversation going at your dinner table, whether virtual or in person.

  • Turkeys are named after the country. Linguists theorize that early Europeans were reminded of the African Guinea Fowl which had come to Europe through Turkey, and the similarity led to its name.
    Source: National Audubon Society
  • Wild turkeys are able to fly at just 13-17 days old.
    Source: Farm Sanctuary
Two plump turkeys strut with feathers out
  • Male turkeys are called “gobblers,” after the “gobble” call they make to announce themselves to females (which are called “hens”). How can you tell if it’s a hen or a gobbler? A turkey’s gender can be determined from its droppings; males produce spiral-shaped poop and females’ poop is shaped like the letter J.
    Source: Smithsonian Magazine
  • Snoopy has made the most appearances in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
    Source: House Beautiful
  • If Ben Franklin had his way, the turkey would be our national bird. An eagle, he wrote in a letter to his daughter, had “bad moral character.” A turkey, on the other hand, was a “much more respectable bird.”
    Source: CNN
a turkey faces toward the right on a pure white background
  • Thanksgiving hasn’t always taken place on the fourth Thursday in November. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up one week to help boost retail sales during the Depression. So many people complained that it was eventually moved back to the original date in 1941. The Thanksgivings between those years are referred to as “Franksgivings” still today.
    Source: Country Living
  • In 1953, the influential food corporation Swanson overestimated how much turkey would be consumed on Thanksgiving and had to get creative with the 260 tons of leftover meat. Using 5,000 aluminum trays and an assembly line of hand-packers, the corporation created a Thanksgiving-inspired meal with the aforementioned turkey, cornbread dressing and gravy, peas, and sweet potatoes, selling the whole thing for a grand total of 98 cents. In the first full year of production, they sold ten million of them, and birthed the prepackaged frozen meal industry.
    Source: Town and Country Magazine
  • While domesticated turkeys cannot fly, wild turkeys can, for short distances, and at up to 55 miles per hour, according to the National Turkey Federation.
    Source: Huffington Post
slices of turkey topped with cranberry sauce with mashed potatoes, green beans, and stuffing
  • The United States has several locations named after the holiday’s main dish and a very popular side dish:
    Turkey Creek, Louisiana
    Turkey Creek, Arizona
    Turkey, Texas
    Turkey, North Carolina
    Cranberry township, Butler County, Pennsylvania
    Cranberry township, Venango County, Pennsylvania
    Source: United States Census Bureau
Close up on a turkey's face

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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Author: Karen DiDonato

Karen, our digital content strategist, has worked with HCI since 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in communications. In her free time she enjoys baking, reading, and gardening.

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