86 Interesting Facts About Thanksgiving

Last updated on March 30th, 2023

Weird Facts about Thanksgiving

58. During the first Thanksgiving ceremony, the Pilgrims and the Native Americans ate their thanksgiving dinner using spoons and knives only. This is because by then, forks had not yet been invented. About 10 years later, Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts introduced the fork, although it didn’t become popular until the 1800s.

Glass of cranberry juice with fresh berries. Thanksgiving facts
Glass of cranberry juice with fresh berries. Photo © Nitr | Dreamstime.com

59. Cranberry juice is served in about 94% of Thanksgiving dinners across the US The easiest way to tell if a cranberry is ripe is to throw it on a wooden barrier and observe how it bounces. Ripe cranberries typically bounce higher than 4 inches when dropped over a wooden barrier. Cranberries are native to North America.

60. Fully 20 percent of all whole cranberries sold in the U.S. are sold during Thanksgiving week. 80 percent of jellied cranberry sauce is sold during the Thanksgiving holiday. For the rest of the year, cranberries are primarily consumed as cranberry juice.

61. The breaking of the wishbone tradition is way older than thanksgiving. To give you an idea, it began from the ancient Etruscans who later passed it to the Romans and then to the British, before finally being passed to the Americans in the 16th century.

62. Although the song “Jingle Bells” is popularly sung during Christmas celebrations, it was originally composed to be sung on Thanksgiving Day. James Lord Pierpont wrote this song in 1857 and titled it “One Horse Open Sleigh” although he later changed it to “Jingle Bells” in 1859. And did you know that the song writer (James Lord Pierpont) was J.P. Morgan’s uncle?

The 92th annual Macy`s Thanksgiving Day parade attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators
The 92th annual Macy`s Thanksgiving Day parade attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators. Photo © HooverTung

63. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade featured animals, including monkeys, bears, elephants, and camels, borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. About 44 million people watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade annually.

64. If you have any questions concerning turkeys on Thanksgiving Day, you can always call the Turkey Talk-Line through which turkey experts from Butterball will answer you. This company receives about 100,000 turkey-related calls in November and December alone. You can also connect with them on social media, live chat, or texting. The Butterball “Turkey Talk” hotline 1-800-BUTTERBALL was established in 1981 when six home economists answered about 11,000 questions about how to cook a turkey between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

65. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be named the US national bird, particularly because it was one of the staple foods for the Pilgrims. However, Thomas Jefferson, the third US president, thought the eagle would be a better option. As a result, Franklin ended up naming the turkey “Tom” after Thomas Jefferson.

66. The TV dinner was born from Thanksgiving leftovers. Specifically, a worker at Swanson ordered excess frozen turkeys on the Thanksgiving Day of 1953. The company’s salesman suggested packaging the leftover turkeys in aluminum trays as well as cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, and peas.

67. Sara Josepha Hale, the writer of the song “Mary Had a Little Lamb” was the woman who greatly contributed to making Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. She achieved this by writing letters to the government for 17 years before finally convincing President Abraham Lincoln to proclaim Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. Sarah Josepha Hale was actually the “Mother of Thanksgiving.”

68. The first Thanksgiving pardon happened in 1963 when President Kennedy joked, “We’ll just let this one grow. It’s our Thanksgiving present to him”. Later in 1989, President George H.W. Bush officially started the White House turkey pardoning ceremony, and it remains a Thanksgiving tradition to date.

Potatoes, Idaho.
Potatoes, Idaho. Interesting facts about Thanksgiving. Image credit – Mike Mozart

69. Although some people think eating turkeys makes them sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner, the truth is that turkeys only have small contents of amino acids tryptophan, which can barely make someone drowsy. On the other hand, eating a lot of carbohydrates such as potatoes is more likely to make you sleepy.

70. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s a 5 percent increase in heart attacks nationwide.

71. More home-cooking-related fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.

72. It’s been estimated that ten percent of people wait until the day before Thanksgiving to get their grocery shopping done. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, rather than the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, is the single busiest shopping day of the year for grocery stores.

Statistics about Thanksgiving

73. About 95 percent of Americans spend Thanksgiving with family; the same is true for Christmas.

74. Around 31 percent of Americans will travel for Thanksgiving. Of those, 47 percent drive rather than fly, and most will travel at least 50 miles.

75. The average cost for Thanksgiving dinner is estimated at $64.05 in 2022, for a meal serving ten people.

76. The average number of Thanksgiving dinner guests per household for families celebrating the holiday is 12.

77. The plastic piece or wire that holds the turkey legs together is called a “hock lock. “

78. In 1920, U.S. turkey growers produced one turkey per year for every 29 persons in the U.S. Today growers produce about one turkey per year for every 1.5 people in the country.

79. About 13 percent of Americans order takeout or go to a restaurant rather than prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

80. About 40 percent of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup sales go toward making green bean casserole popular at Thanksgiving dinner.

81. In a poll, 31 percent of Americans said mashed potatoes are their favorite Thanksgiving side dish. Only six percent enjoyed green beans the most.

Stove Top Stuffing Mix
Stove Top Stuffing Mix.

82. Stuffing, so popular on Thanksgiving Day, is infrequently served outside the holiday. Kraft sells 40 million boxes of Stove Top Stuffing Mix between October and December each year. That sounds like a lot until you consider that Kraft Macaroni & Cheese sells about 1 million boxes a day all year long.

Tips for Foreigners Visiting the US for Thanksgiving

83. There is more to Thanksgiving celebrations than just binging (to eat or drink too much, especially without being able to conrol yourself) on stuffed turkeys and watching football. There are plenty of recreational facilities that you can visit on Thanksgiving and have fun.

84. The rate of traveling usually surges every Thanksgiving season, and hence, prior planning is necessary to avoid inconveniences. For instance, ensure you book your flight on time in case you intend to travel during Thanksgiving. This is because flight and train delays are common around this time. The cost of tickets also goes up due to high demand. However, on the real Thanksgiving Day, fewer people travel and tickets can be cheaper.

85. Black Friday is one of the greatest shopping days that you can get to save a lot of money on your purchases. However, stores are usually flooded, and so, a little patience won’t hurt.

86. Black Friday, aka the day after Thanksgiving, is the busiest day for plumbers.