Happy Thanksgiving, folks! While most Americans will celebrate by eating an absurd amount of food, we will celebrate by testing your knowledge with these Thanksgiving trivia questions...
The Woman Who Got Us to Make Thanksgiving a National Holiday Also Wrote What Iconic Children's Song? Sarah Josepha Hale was a woman truly dedicated to the cause of there being a Thanksgiving holiday. So dedicated in fact that she spent 17 years campaigning for it and wrote letters to five different presidents. Until then, Thanksgiving was celebrated, but not recognized as a national holiday. She finally got her wish when Abraham Lincoln officially placed the holiday on the last Thursday in November. (How did it get moved to the fourth Thursday in November? You'll have to read tomorrow's post to find out.) She is also responsible for much of our current Thanksgiving menu. The pilgrims and Native Americans didn't eat most of the dishes we commonly associate with the holiday today. Instead, those came from editorials she wrote giving recipes for things like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and, for dessert, pumpkin pie.What's another Sarah Josepha Hale claim to fame? She wrote, "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
Which President Pardoned the First Turkey? As is the case with many Presidential pardons, this issue is a bit controversial. There are stories linking both Lincoln and Truman to the first pardon of a turkey, though both are unverified, and the Truman one has been disputed by the Truman Presidential Library. And, you'd think if anyone would be in favor of good press for Truman, it would be the library set up in his honor. Others have credited JFK who, somehow, in a way that only JFK can, got credit for pardoning a turkey that he actually just sent back to the farm so it could put on a few more pounds before being eaten. Reagan joked about pardoning a turkey during Iran-Contra, but the long, proud history of pardoning a turkey started officially in... 1989 with George H.W. Bush. The tradition has continued every year since.
What Dinner-Time Staple Got Its Start Due to a Surplus of Turkey Following Thanksgiving? The TV dinner owes its existence to Thanksgiving, an order miscalculation and a salesman named Gerry Thomas. In 1953, the folks at Swanson had overestimated how much turkey they would sell. Like, by 260 tons. They finished the holiday with ten refrigerated railroad cars full of the stuff. Luckily for them, they had Gerry Thomas on their team. The clever salesman came up with the idea of a frozen dinner. Using the food trays from airplane flights for inspiration, he put together an assembly line of women to throw some turkey, cornbread, gravy, peas and sweet potatoes on a tray, then sell the whole meal as a frozen dinner. And thus, the TV dinner was born. The new product was a hit. In 1954, Swanson sold 10 million turkey dinners.
Which U.S. state raises the most turkeys? Minnesota leads the nation by raising an estimated 44 million turkeys in 2013 according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The other states were not even close in turkey production such as North Carolina (34 million), Arkansas (29 million), Missouri (18 million), Virginia (17 million) and Indiana (17 million). Those five states plus Minnesota account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkey production in 2013.