Here are a few fun facts related to Thanksgiving and some of the main ingredients that may be on your table this year. If you have your own “fun facts” please add them in the comments on Facebook. Happy Thanksgiving.
- The original cornucopia was made from a curved goat’s horn
- Thanksgiving was not declared a National Holiday by Congress until 1941
- The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe Native Americans in 1621 and lasted for 3 days.
- At the original Thanksgiving, there was no milk, cheese, bread, butter, mashed potatoes, corn or pumpkin pie.
- President Thomas Jefferson did not like the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day.
- The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts” “where the Plymouth Pilgrims were building on the land.
- The famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in the 1920’s.
- The presenting of the live turkey to the President has been a tradition since 1947. The President then pardons the turkey, allowing it to live out its remaining years on a farm.
- Thanksgiving is also celebrated in Canada- on the second Monday in October.
- According to the American Automobile Association, 38 million Americans traveled an estimated 50 miles or more from home during Thanksgiving weekend 2009.
- Scientists have found fossils suggesting that Turkeys roamed North America 10 million years ago
- When Columbus discovered North America, he thought the turkey was a type of peacock, which roam India.
- 90% of American homes eat Turkey on Thanksgiving
- 50% eat Turkey on Christmas
- Abraham Lincoln chose the last Thursday in November for Thanksgiving
- More than 45 million turkeys are eaten on thanksgiving, over 675 million pounds (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture)
- The average Thanksgiving dinner has 4,575 calories
- It is rumored that the outfit Big Bird wears on Sesame Street is made of turkey feathers
- Wild turkeys can run up to 20 mph and fly for short distances up to 55 mph
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird, one of his biggest arguments being that it is native to America.
- An American will eat approximately 140 pounds of potatoes each year
- In 1995 the Space Shuttle “Columbia” took a potato plant into space, making it the first food to grow in space.
- A potato is 80% water
- Yams and Sweet Potatoes are NOT in the same family, they are in separate botanical families.
- Sweet potatoes have been around since prehistoric time
- The potato is the 4th most important crop in the world- after wheat, rice and corn.
- The potato produces more food per acre than any other crop.
- Potatoes are grown in every state in the United States.
- Royals used to wear potato blossoms on their clothing as a fashion statement
- Potatoes, contrary to popular belief, were not part of the original Thanksgiving. They had not been introduced to North America at that time.
- About 50% of Americans stuff their birds with stuffing (or “dressing”)
- There are regional differences with stuffing- in the South cornbread stuffing is popular, and white bread is common is most other parts of the country. Although, there are many variations to ingredients added with the bread.
- Stuffing dates back to the Roman Empire, where the ancient cookbook “Apicius de re Coquinaria” had recipes that called for stuffed chicken, rabbit, pork and more.
- The brand Stove Top introduced their famous boxed stuffing in 1972.
- Stove Top now sells around 60 million boxes of their stuffing around Thanksgiving.
- There is no evidence to support that stuffing was served at the first Thanksgiving.
Green Bean Facts:
- An estimated 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving
- Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole recipe (using their cream of mushroom soup) was developed in 1955.
- There is only around 40 calories in one cup of green beans.
- The first to put green beans on their menu were the French.
- China is the largest producer of fresh green beans.
- Green beans are also called snap beans because of the sound they make when being broken. Green beans are also called string beans because many varieties used to have a long string that ran along the seam of the bean.
- An estimated 20% of cranberries eaten in the year are eaten on Thanksgiving
- Native Americans not only ate cranberries, they also used them for their fabrics, pottery and medicinal purposes.
- There was approximately 709 million pounds of cranberry produced in the United States in 2009.
- The top cranberry growing states are Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.
- The Pilgrims named the fruit “craneberry” because their drooping heads in the spring reminded them of a crane.
- A cranberry is most ripe when it is able to bounce.
- The Cape Cod Cranberry Company produced the first canned Cranberry sauce in the early 1900s.
- Only 5% of cranberries grown are sold fresh, the remaining percent are sold as cranberry juice, cranberry sauce, etc.
- A cup of fresh cranberries is about 50 calories whereas a cup of cranberry sauce is around 400.
- The top pumpkin growing states are Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and New York.
- Those states together produced around 1 billion pounds of pumpkin in 2008.
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest Pumpkin Pie ever baked weighed in at over 2,000 pounds and measured over 12 feet long. The pie was baked in October 2005 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers from Ohio.
- Pumpkins are 90% water.
- Approximately 90% of the pumpkins processed in the United States in a year are grown in Illinois.
- Early colonial settlers used pumpkin for the crust of pies rather than the filling.
- Pumpkin is a fruit.
- Pumpkins grow on 6 of the 7 continents.
- The world’s fastest pumpkin carver is Steve Clarke of Havertown, Pennsylvania. In 2000 he carved a 27-pound pumpkin in 1 minute 14 seconds, beating the old record by 19 seconds.
- Pumpkins come in a variety of colors including: green, red, yellow, white, blue, tan and of course orange.