Thanksgiving by the Numbers

Served roasted turkey with vegetables

Here are a few numerical fun facts about America’s second favorite holiday (Christmas got the number 1 spot).

The first Thanksgiving took place at Plymouth Colony in 1621 and lasted for 3 days. There were a total of 143 people present: 53 colonists and 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe.

In preparation, 4 Plymouth men went out to hunt birds (including geese, ducks, and of course turkey), while the Wampanoag provided 5 deer. Unlike a typical Thanksgiving meal today, they also ate venison, lobster, and other shellfish, but sides such as corn and stuffing made their way onto the table both then and now.

Although it was celebrated on and off throughout the country, Thanksgiving wasn’t officially a national holiday with a set date until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it would take place on the fourth Thursday of November.

Although Americans eat an average of 13.3 pounds of turkey throughout the year, nothing comes close to Thanksgiving consumption, when an approximate 46 million turkeys are bought and eaten – and that’s with only 88% of people eating turkey on the holiday! Christmas is the next-most popular time for turkey, with 22 million.

65% of people look forward to eating the leftovers more than eating the actual Thanksgiving meal. They should have plenty, since there are 856 million pounds of cranberries and 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes grown in the U.S every year, many of which are consumed on this holiday.

There are exactly 17 ridges on every can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which began a pretty small affair in 1924 and featured a menagerie of exotic animals like tigers and camels instead of giant balloons, is now watched by 3.5 million in person and a whopping 50 million on television. Those enormous balloons take 300, 000 cubic feet of helium to stay afloat – that’s enough to fill 3.4 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

More than 46 million Americans travel to see loved ones at Thanksgiving. Whether you’re traveling or staying close to home, have a happy, grateful Thanksgiving!


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