Little known facts about … Thanksgiving


• The first Thanksgiving Day was in 1621 with three whole days of celebration by about 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians. Although turkey was in abundance, it was likely not the only star, but was joined by lobster, seal, duck, geese and swans.

• The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in 1924 featured animals from the Central Park Zoo, including monkeys, camels and elephants.

• Butterball has had a Turkey Talkline for nearly 40 years for cooks with questions about cooking a turkey. It is now available through online chat, email and phone.

• Canada also celebrates Thanksgiving but on the second Monday of October, commemorating Martin Frobisher’s successful sailing from England to the Canadian territory in 1578.

• Each year, about 46 million turkeys are cooked for Thanksgiving.

• In 1989, then-President George H. W. Bush was the first to pardon a turkey. President Harry Truman was the first to receive a ceremonial turkey from the National Turkey Federation – but he ate it for dinner. President John F. Kennedy was the first to let a turkey go, followed by President Richard Nixon, who sent his turkey to a petting zoo.

• On average, 4,500 calories are consumed and 229 grams of fat (three to four times the fat in a normal day.)

• Jingle Bells was originally written for Thanksgiving in 1850. The lyrics were later altered for Christmas.

• At the turn of the 20th century, children and adults would dress up in masks and host Thanksgiving costume crawls. The tradition of children dressing up as poor people in New York became so popular that Thanksgiving was nicknamed “Ragamuffin Day.”

• Three towns in the U.S. are named Turkey (in Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina). Other Thanksgiving-themed town names included Pilgrim, Mich., Cranberry, Penn. and Yum Yum,Tenn.

Sources: and


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