Turkey Trivia

Let’s take a moment to be thankful not only for the turkey we’re eating this Thanksgiving, but also for fun facts about America’s most festive bird!

Although fossil evidence shows that turkeys have been gobbling around America for 10 million years, it may not have been on the menu at the first Thanksgiving, and if it was, it was certainly not the star of the show: other main courses included venison, goose, duck, lobster, and even eel.

TV dinners were inspired by the need to use up excess turkey that didn’t sell in time for Thanksgiving: in 1953 the Swanson company accidentally bought 26 tons too much turkey and had to find another use for it. So an enterprising employee suggested portioning it out with side dishes and selling it frozen, leading to the first microwave TV dinner.

Be thankful you don’t have to catch your own turkey each year, since they can run up to 20 miles per hour, and their flight speeds can reach 55 miles per hour.

They are also capable of having heart attacks, which the Air Force discovered when entire nearby fields of turkeys would drop dead during tests of the sound barrier.

Benjamin Franklin campaigned hard to have the official bird of the United States be the “respectable” turkey rather than the eagle, which he felt was a creature of “bad moral character”.

The amino acid Tryptophan, found in turkey, often gets the blame for the post-Thanksgiving meal sleepiness, but recent evidence suggest that since it has no more than other meats, the increased amount of carbohydrates are the more likely culprit.

Americans eat about 13.3 pounds of turkey throughout the year, but most of it, obviously, happens on Thanksgiving, when 46 million turkeys are consumed. Christmas comes second in the turkey-feasting ranking, when around 22 million are eaten, with Easter coming in at a close third with 19 million.

Only male turkeys make the famous “gobble” — females cackle.

Have a happy, turkey-filled Thanksgiving!

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