Sarah Josepha Hale petitioned for a national Thanksgiving holiday for close to 40 years, believing that “Thanksgiving, like the Fourth of July, should be considered a national festival and observed by all our people.”
Sarah Josepha Hale, the enormously influential magazine editor and author who waged a tireless campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in the mid-19th century, was also the author of the classic nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Margaret Cusack’s Thanksgiving design on U.S. Postage
In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative Thanksgiving stamp. Designed by the artist Margaret Cusack in a style resembling traditional folk-art needlework, it depicted a cornucopia overflowing with fruits and vegetables, under the phrase “We Give Thanks.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minnesota is the top turkey-producing state in America, with a planned production total of 46.5 million in 2011. Six states—Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Indinia—account for nearly two-thirds of the 248 million turkeys that will be raised in the U.S. this year.
The National Turkey Federation estimated that 46 million turkeys—one fifth of the annual total of 235 million consumed in the United States—were eaten at Thanksgiving.
In a survey conducted by the National Turkey Federation, nearly 88 percent of Americans said they eat turkey at Thanksgiving. The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds, which means some 690 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the U.S. during Thanksgiving in 2007.
Cranberry production in the U.S. is expected to reach 750 million pounds in 2011. Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are the top cranberry growing states.
Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and New York are the major pumpkin growing states, together they produced 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin in 2010. Total U.S. production was over 1.5 billion pounds.
The sweet potato is most plentifully produced in North Carolina, which grew 972 million pounds of the popular Thanksgiving side dish vegetable in 2010. Other sweet potato powerhouses included California and Mississippi, and the top producing states together generated over 2.4 billion pounds of the tubers.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. It was baked on October 8, 2005 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, and included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon, 2 pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust.
Lobster, seal and swans were on the Pilgrims’ menu.
The heaviest pumpkin weighs 1,054.01 kg (2,323.70 lb) when it was presented by Beni Meier (Switzerland) at the European Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in Ludwigsburg, Germany, on 12 October 2014. Beni Meier grew a total of three record-breaking pumpkins in one season! Click HERE to find more at the Guinness World Records website.
THANKSGIVING AROUND THE COUNTRY
Three towns in the U.S. take their name from the traditional Thanksgiving bird, including Turkey, Texas (pop. 465); Turkey Creek, Louisiana (pop. 363); and Turkey, North Carolina (pop. 270).
Originally known as Macy’s Christmas Parade—to signify the launch of the Christmas shopping season—the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in New York City in 1924. It was launched by Macy’s employees and featured animals from the Central Park Zoo. Today, some 3 million people attend the annual parade and another 44 million watch it on television.
Tony Sarg, a children’s book illustrator and puppeteer, designed the first giant hot air balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927. He later created the elaborate mechanically animated window displays that grace the façade of the New York store from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon has appeared as a giant balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade more times than any other character in history. As the Flying Ace, Snoopy made his sixth appearance in the 2006 parade.
While a Kilgore, Texas, band struts its stuff, the character with the most balloons in history follows behind. Seven different versions of the Snoopy character have appeared in the parade, the first being Aviator Snoopy in 1968. Astronaut Snoopy appeared in 1972 (a tribute to Apollo 11), Skating Snoopy in 1987, Snoopy with Woodstock in 1988, Millennium Snoopy in 1999, Flying Ace Snoopy in 2006, and the seventh one will appear in the 2013 parade. He not only has the most balloons in history, he also has appeared in 32 parades, more than any other character.
The first time the Detroit Lions played football on Thanksgiving Day was in 1934, when they hosted the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium, in front of 26,000 fans. The NBC radio network broadcast the game on 94 stations across the country–the first national Thanksgiving football broadcast. Since that time, the Lions have played a game every Thanksgiving (except between 1939 and 1944); in 1956, fans watched the game on television for the first time.
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1/2 cup chopped carrot (1 medium)
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley (optional)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cups dried white bread cubes*
1 cups chicken broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet cook celery, onion, and carrot in hot butter over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in parsley (if desired), poultry seasoning, and pepper.
In a very large bowl combine celery mixture and bread cubes. Drizzle with enough broth to moisten, tossing lightly to combine. Place stuffing in a 2-quart casserole.
Bake, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes or until heated through.
From the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen
To make dry bread cubes, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Cut 12 to 14 slices white bread into 1/2-inch cubes to yield 8 cups. Spread into two 15x10x1-inch baking pans; bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until dry, stirring twice; cool. (Cubes will continue to dry and crisp as they cool.) Or let bread cubes stand, loosely covered, at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. Slow Cooker Directions:
Prepare as directed, doubling the amounts of all ingredients, except use 1-1/3 cups chicken broth. Omit the 2-quart casserole and lightly coat a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon stuffing into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. (Stuffing gets very moist as it cooks.) Make-Ahead Directions:
Prepare as directed through Step 2, except do not preheat oven. Cover casserole tightly with plastic wrap; chill for up to 24 hours. To serve, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap. If desired, drizzle stuffing with an additional 1/4 cup chicken broth to moisten. Bake, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of stuffing registers 165 degrees F.
Nutrition Facts (Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing)
Per serving: 108 kcal cal., 5 g fat (3 g sat. fat, 1 g monounsatured fat), 10 mg chol., 288 mg sodium, 14 g carb., 1 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g pro.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, carrot, onion, and garlic; cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, the 3 tablespoons ketchup, the 1 tablespoon mustard, the Worcestershire sauce, and kosher salt. Add bread crumbs and vegetable mixture, stirring until evenly moistened.
Add ground beef; using your clean hands, mix well. Line a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with foil. Lightly pat the mixture into a 9×5-inch loaf in the prepared dish.
For glaze, in a small bowl combine the 1/2 cup ketchup, the brown sugar, and the 2 teaspoons mustard; set aside. (For a change of pace, substitute one of the glaze options below for the ketchup-brown sugar glaze.)
Bake about 1 hour or until internal temperature registers 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, spooning glaze over meat loaf for the last 25 minutes of baking.
Let the meat loaf stand for 10 minutes. Using two spatulas, transfer loaf to a serving platter; cut into eight slices.
From the Test Kitchen
Apricot-Mustard Glaze: Stir together 1/2 cup apricot preserves and 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard. Nutrition analysis per serving: 387 calories, 26 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 18 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 123 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 13 g total sugar, 3% Vitamin A, 6% Vitamin C, 546 mg sodium, 7% calcium, 20% iron
Peach-Chile Glaze: Stir together 1/2 cup peach preserves, 2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce with garlic, and 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger. Nutrition analysis per serving: 383 calories, 26 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 18 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 123 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 13 g total sugar, 3% Vitamin A, 6% Vitamin C, 484 mg sodium, 7% calcium, 20% iron
Cranberry Glaze: Stir together 1/2 cup ketchup and 1/4 cup whole cranberry sauce. Nutrition analysis per serving: 356 calories, 26 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 18 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 123 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 10 g total sugar, 6% Vitamin A, 7% Vitamin C, 618 mg sodium, 7% calcium, 20% iron
Strawberry Glaze: In a blender combine 1 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup plum jam, 3 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chile peppers, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover and blend until smooth. In a small saucepan heat strawberry mixture until boiling; boil gently for 10 minutes. Cool slightly before spooning over meat loaf. Nutrition analysis per serving: 391 calories, 26 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 18 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 123 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 14 g total sugar, 3% Vitamin A, 25% Vitamin C, 536 mg sodium, 7% calcium, 21% iro
If you like, substitute 8 ounces bulk sweet Italian sausage, uncooked ground turkey, or ground pork for 8 ounces of the ground beef.
Nutrition Facts (Best Meat Loaf)
Per serving: 369 kcal cal., 18 g fat (6 g sat. fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat, 7 g monounsatured fat), 123 mg chol., 649 mg sodium, 24 g carb., 1 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 26 g pro. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet