If you’re like most Americans, you’ll soon be setting down to a belt-busting Thanksgiving meal featuring a nice, fat, roasted turkey. Probably sets your mouth to watering just thinking about itYou’ve spent your whole life thinking of turkey as the centerpiece of your yearly Thanksgiving dinner. But how much do you really know about the bird?
All you really need to know, of course, is that it tastes great. But you can add to your store of turkey knowledge with the fun facts below. Perhaps you can use them to amaze and astound your Thanksgiving tablemates with the depth of your knowledge of turkey trivia.
- Feather Facts: Each adult turkey sports about 3,500 feathers. When turkeys are processed, those feathers are put to lots of different uses. Many are composted and used as fertilizer. Down from turkey feathers is sometimes used to make pillows. And turkey feathers helps to keep another big bird warm: Sesame Street’s Big Bird.
- Courageous Runner-Up: You know that Benjamin Franklin proposed that the turkey be selected as America’s national bird, right? When the turkey turned out to be just a runner-up to the bald eagle as the choice for the national bird, Franklin was sorely disappointed. He felt that the eagle was a bird of “bad moral character,” while the turkey was a bird of courage and virtue.
- The Turkey Has Landed: When Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon, Armstrong reported that the “Eagle has landed.” That, of course, is because the lunar lander was named after America’s national bird. It’s somewhat ironic then, that Benjamin Franklin’s choice for the national bird, the turkey, was served as the first meal on the moon. After landing, the occupants of the Eagle chowed down on a meal of roasted turkey with trimmings.
- Only Guys Gobble: Everyone knows that turkeys gobble. But not everyone knows that only male turkeys (toms) gobble. Tom turkeys gobble, and hens click.
- Fast Fowl: Farm-raised turkeys are ground bound; they can’t fly. But wild turkeys can certainly fly. In fact, for short distances they can fly quite fast: 55 miles per hour. And they can run short distances at up to 20 miles per hour.
- Turkey Tiredness: Most folks associate the traditional post-Thanksgiving-dinner slumbers with eating turkey. But recent studies indicate that the turkey probably isn’t to blame (or to thank) for the drowsiness. The need to nap is more likely caused by the huge amount of carbohydrate-based foods traditionally consumed with a typical Thanksgiving dinner.
American Turkey Consumption is NOT Trivial!
So now you know a few facts of turkey trivia that you might not have known previously.
And here’s one more fact that’s anything but trivial: Americans will consume more than 16 pounds of turkey per person this year. And our taste for turkey is growing. Forty years ago we consumed only about 8 pounds per person each year.
So even though Ben Franklin didn’t get his way in making the turkey America’s national bird, it’s the bird we’ll all be thinking about on our national day of Thanksgiving.
The eagle? It’s OK for flags and symbols and emblems and such. But when it comes to celebrating the quintessential American holiday of Thanksgiving, it’s time to talk turkey.