Let’s talk turkey

holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving holiday, turkey facts, holiday history, turkey health benefits, US holiday traditions, fun and humor, keep calm and eat turkey

As many of us in the US prepare to sit down to our Thanksgiving holiday meal on Thursday, I got to thinking about how the traditional turkey meal came to be, and why we really get groggy after we eat it. Here’s what I discovered about turkeys.

How did turkey become the traditional holiday meat?

From Slate, in a nutshell:

[Turkeys] were fresh, affordable, and big enough to feed a crowd. …could be slaughtered without a huge economic sacrifice. Cows were more useful alive than dead, and commercial beef wasn’t widely available…Chicken was more highly regarded than it is today…and hens were valuable as long as they laid eggs. Venison… would have required you to hunt for your Thanksgiving meal. …ham or brined pork…wasn’t considered fit for special occasions. Eating turkey was also in keeping with British holiday customs…imported to the New World.

Does the tryptophan in turkeys put us to sleep?

Scientific American cleared that myth up nicely: No. In short, it’s the carbs or the booze, the combination of the two, or simply the vast quantities of food intake that launches us into a food coma.

Just the turkey facts, please.

holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving holiday, turkey facts, holiday history, turkey health benefits, US holiday traditions, fun and humor, keep calm and eat turkey

Health benefits

  • High in protein, low in saturated fat.
  • Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
  • Rich in B3 and B6 vitamins.

Consumption numbers

  • In 2012, the average American ate 16 pounds of turkey.
  • 88% of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
  • 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, 22 million on Christmas and 19 million turkeys on Easter.
  • In 2011, 736 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the US.

Poundage + calories

  • The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
  • A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
  • White meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat.

Leftover usage

  • The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey are:
    • In a sandwich,
    • stew,
    • chili or soup,
    • casseroles, and
    • as a burger.

Industry counts

  • In 2013, 242 million turkeys are expected to be raised in the US.
  • The turkey industry employs 20,000 to 25,000 people in the US.
  • Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey and two dressed turkeys to the President. The President “pardons” the live turkey and allows it to live out its days on an historical farm.

Production states

Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, Indiana, California, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio were the leading producers of turkeys in 2011-2012.

Odd facts

  • Turkeys lived almost ten million years ago.
  • Turkeys have 3,500 feathers at maturity.
  • Wattle: The bright red fleshy growth under a turkey’s throat.
  • Towns in the US named after the holiday’s traditional main course: Turkey, Texas; Turkey Creek, Louisiana; and Turkey, North Carolina, plus nine townships around the country named “Turkey.”

For the complete list of turkey facts, click here.

Can turkeys fly?

One of the funniest seasonal episodes of a sitcom ever: WKRP in Cincinnati ’s Thanksgiving turkey promotion answered that question. Here’s a clip.

More accurately, according to The Washington Post, wild turkeys can fly – about 100 yards, and mainly to escape a predator. Domesticated turkeys, the Thanksgiving meal centerpiece, cannot fly.

Let us be thankful – and watch a parade, a dog show and Miracle on 34th Street on the day. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy!


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