Thanksgiving: the holiday so many people forget or put on the back burner because Christmas decorations hit stores before Halloween has even ended. Thanksgiving is almost the red-headed stepchild of the end-of-year holidays; people remember it about a week beforehand, then quickly forget it when the deluge of Black Friday ads bombard consumers around the country. But Thanksgiving isn’t the holiday that should only be remembered for the amount of guilt and shame experienced after stuffing one’s face full of delicious turkey and trimmings. With its historical significance as number one, Thanksgiving should also be remembered for these weird Thanksgiving facts:
Thanksgiving, or a day of thanks, has been practiced throughout the world for hundreds of years. England and Canada have practiced the tradition since the 1500s, and other nations around the globe have their own day or days of thanks celebrations.
The pilgrims did not use forks at the first US Thanksgiving because the fork did not come over from England with them. They used spoons, knives, and their fingers; the fork was introduced 10 years later.
Thanksgiving wasn’t an official holiday until 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday. But who can we thank for Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday? Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who petitioned five sitting presidents over the course of 17 years for Thanksgiving to be recognized as a national holiday.
No one really knows when the actual tradition of the turkey pardon came into being, with some reports of Lincoln pardoning a Christmas turkey as the request of his son, Tad. President Kennedy, in 1963, sent the turkey back to the farm, and President Nixon sent the turkey to a petting farm near Washington D.C. It wasn’t until 1989 that the pardon became an actual thing, when President George H. W. Bush pardoned the Thanksgiving bird.
In 1939, as an effort to lengthen the Christmas shopping season, President Roosevelt announced thank Thanksgiving would take place on the second-to-last Thursday of November (Nov. 23 in 1939) to give retailers a chance to make money that year. This angered and upset Republicans in the federal government, and Atlantic City mayor Thomas D. Taggart, Jr. deemed it “Franksgiving” after Franklin and Thanksgiving. It took a joint resolution of Congress in 1941 to designate the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.
Minnesota tops the list of the highest producer of turkeys in the US. The state produces around 49 million turkeys each year, which is a shit-ton of turkey.
The ever-elusive turducken: a chicken that is stuffed into a duck, and then the duck is stuffed into a turkey. These things are expensive, and you could potentially pair it with a Pumpecapple Piecake: three pies baked into three different cakes, and then stacked into layers. The thing can weigh up to 23 pounds.