We all know that Thanksgiving is as American as, well, turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
But did you know that the menu for the very first Thanksgiving feast included lobster? Or that Canada also celebrates the holiday – only they observe it in October?
Here then, from all of us at Alta Pro, is a heaping bounty of Thanksgiving Trivia.
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20 Fun Thanksgiving Facts
- George Washington first recognized the holiday in 1789, but it was Abraham Lincoln who made it a day-certain national event.
- Thomas Jefferson declined to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation, believing it improperly entwined matters of church and state.
- The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade was held in 1924. The inaugural parade included real bears, monkeys, elephants, and other animals on loan from the Central Park Zoo. In 1927 the animals were replaced with giant balloon characters.
- New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme invented the Thanksgiving Turducken, which is a deboned chicken placed inside a deboned duck, placed inside a turkey. It has become one of the most popular holiday dishes in the Bayou State.
- Lobster was likely included on the menu for the first Thanksgiving, in addition to other indigenous foods like mussels, venison and corn porridge. But no mashed potatoes and gravy, because potatoes weren’t grown in North America yet. And cranberry sauce wouldn’t arrive for decades.
- Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October to give thanks for the harvest of the past year. Some historians say it commemorates the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England in search of the Northwest Passage, which led to the settlement of the Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island in the present Canadian territory of Nunavut.
- Black Friday is not only a frenetic day for shoppers, it’s also one of the busiest days of the year for plumbers, who are called in to clear countless grease-clogged drains and garbage disposals.
- The Butterball company fields approximately 100,000 calls on its “Turkey Hotline” each year.
- Thanksgiving inspired the invention of the TV dinner, when in 1953, the Swanson company had more than 260 tons of unsold turkey on hand after failing to hit its sales projections. The solution: The world’s first ready-made meal-on-a-tray, sold for 98¢ each.
- Today the Swanson “Hungry-Man Roasted Carved White Meat Turkey” costs $2.99.
- Abraham Lincoln granted the first presidential turkey pardon in 1863, but it happened after Thanksgiving, when Abe gave clemency to the live turkey intended for his family’s Christmas dinner.
- The first Turkey Trot was held in 1896 in Buffalo, New York. Six runners participated.
- The Christmas carol Jingle Bells was actually written for Thanksgiving by James Lord Pierpont, who penned it for his father’s Sunday school class to sing on Turkey Day. Note: the lyrics make no mention of Christmas.
- Americans eat 46 million pounds of turkey every Thanksgiving.
- They eat another 22 million pounds on Christmas.
- The first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 lasted for three days.
- There were no forks at the first Thanksgiving. The guests used ladles, knives and – mostly – their hands.
- The green bean casserole was invented by Dorcas Reilly, who worked in the Campbell’s Soup home economics department. It was originally called Green Bean Bake.
- The average Thanksgiving meal is between 3,000 to 4,000 calories – or nearly twice the recommended daily amount.
- The Detroit Lions have played football every Thanksgiving Day since 1934, except for the years during World War II.
Source: Reader’s Digest
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