After you gather around the table for a hearty Thanksgiving feast, impress your guests and relatives with some witty “Turkey Day” trivia! From the first Thanksgiving to the first Thanksgiving Day football game, here are some of the day’s unusual facts!
The first Thanksgiving feast, which lasted for three days, took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the fall of 1621. The meal, according to primary documents, is said to have consisted of deer and “fowl,” which many historians believe was most likely duck. Festivals to celebrate a bountiful harvest were a fairly widespread practice with variations occurring across many cultures. Pictures of Pilgrims with buckles on their hats or shoes are thought to be an inaccurate interpretation of attire. That type of clothing became popular later in the century. Though the holiday was observed many times throughout the years including by George Washington and routinely during Lincoln’s presidency, it wasn’t officially declared as a national holiday, to be held on the fourth Thursday of November, until 1941 – a full 320 years after the first Thanksgiving!
It has long been a theory among sleepy Thanksgiving feasters that an amino acid commonly known as tryptophan found in turkey meat is the culprit when it comes to all the post-feast tiredness. In all likelihood, the sleepiness is just the effect of digesting a big meal combined with a relaxed atmosphere that often includes a comfy couch! Scientific studies show that tryptophan, although sometimes converted by the body into melatonin - a natural sleep hormone - cannot have an immediate effect on you unless it is taken on an empty stomach, which, with all the trimmings, side dishes and desserts served up on Thanksgiving, isn’t likely!
Thanksgiving Day wouldn’t be the same without the game, but when did that tradition start? High school and college football games were a Thanksgiving pastime at least since the College Championships were held on that day in 1876! The first Thanksgiving Day radio broadcast of a National Football League game took place in 1934 in a contest between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears. It wouldn’t be until 1956 that the Thanksgiving Day football game was first televised to living rooms across the country!
Preparing that Thanksgiving feast can be a real feat! According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest turkey ever documented weighed in at a whopping 86 pounds! The record was set in London, England on December 12, 1989. The turkey, a male bird or “tom” named Tyson, fetched an amazing $6,692 at a charitable auction! Imagine cooking that!
Leave room for dessert! The largest pumpkin pie ever made in the U.S. weighed 2,020 pounds fresh out of the oven! Baked in Ohio in 2005, the colossal custard was over 12 feet in diameter! It was served up in over 3,000 slices after baking in a specially built oven for more than five hours!
There are many tales of how the name of the large gobbling bird from the “New World” came to be called “turkey.” Although still somewhat a matter of debate, the most popular and probable theory is that when the large birds, which had never before been seen in England and Europe, were sent overseas, people associated them with another tasty large bird that had been traded to them before and had come to their tables by way of the country of Turkey. Thus, the bird was referred to as a “turkey.” Other theories include that Columbus, being lost and believing he was in India, mistakenly believed the large, colorful birds to be peacocks as they were a common bird there, and therefore called them by the Indian word for peacock, “tuka,” which admittedly sounds a bit like “turkey.”
However you carve it, have a Happy Thanksgiving!