According to popular legend, back in the fall of 1621, the early settlers of Plymouth Colony held a feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. They invited the local Native Americans (called by another name back then), and ate Butterball turkey and pumpkin pie with Redi Whip.
Whether or not this really happened, the legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.
So, today, after stuffing yourself silly—and before watching football—you might want to put all this in perspective by reviewing the following statistics we have glommed off the nice folks over at the U.S. Census Bureau (we read the census reports, so you don’t have to):
248 million: Turkeys raised in the United States this year
7.11 billion: Pounds these turkeys weighed
$4.37 billion: Value of these turkeys
13.3 pounds: The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American
709 million pounds: This year’s U.S. cranberry production
2.4 billion pounds: This year’s sweet potato production
1.1 billion pounds: This year’s pumpkin production
656,340 tons: This year’s green (snap) bean production
4: Number of places in the United States named after the holiday's traditional main course. Turkey Creek, La., was the most populous in 2010, with 441 residents, followed by Turkey, Texas (421), Turkey Creek, Ariz. (294), and Turkey, N.C. (292). There are also 11 townships around the country with Turkey in their names, including three in Kansas.
9: Number of places and townships in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the red, acidic berry (e.g., Cranbury, N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2008, with 27,194 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next (6,795).
116.7 million: Number of households across the nation -- all potential gathering places for people to celebrate the holiday.
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