Thanksgiving Trivia

 

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
Sarah Josepha Hale

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

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.”

 

THANKSGIVING ON THE ROADS

The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimated that 42.2 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2010.

 

THANKSGIVING ON THE TABLE

  • 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!

    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.

    Snoopy the balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day 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.

 

For more on Thanksgiving… Click here: History.com
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