Thanksgiving day facts

Thanksgiving day facts: (from the U.S. Census Bureau) What many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving took place in December 1621 as the religious separatist Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. The day did not become a national holiday until 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.

256 million

The preliminary estimate of the number of turkeys raised in the United States in 2005. That’s down 3 percent from 2004. The turkeys produced in 2004 weighed 7.3 billion pounds altogether and were valued at $3.1 billion. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)


44.5 million

The preliminary estimate of the number of turkeys Minnesota expects to raise in 2005. The Gopher State is tops in turkey production. It is followed by North Carolina (36.0 million), Arkansas (29.0 million), Virginia (21.0 million), Missouri (20.5 million) and California (15.1 million). These six states together will probably account for about 65 percent of U. S. turkeys produced in 2005. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)

649 million pounds

The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2005, up 5 percent from 2004. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 367 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (170 million). Oregon, New Jersey and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 18 million to 52 million pounds. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)

1.6 billion pounds

The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced in the United States in 2004. North Carolina (688 million pounds) produced more sweet potatoes than any other state. It was followed by California (339 million pounds). Mississippi and Louisiana also produced large amounts: at least 200 million pounds each. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)

998 million pounds

Total pumpkin production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2004. Illinois, with a production of 457 million pounds, led the country. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York also produced a lot of pumpkins: each state produced at least 70 million pounds worth. The value of all the pumpkins produced by these states was about $100 million. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)

2.1 billion bushels

The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls and pies — produced in the United States in 2005. Kansas and North Dakota — combined — accounted for about 33 percent of the nation’s wheat production. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)

$5.2 million

The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys during the first half of 2005 — all from Canada. Our northern neighbors also accounted for all of the cranberries the United States imported ($2.2 million). When it comes to sweet potatoes, however, the Dominican Republic was the source of most ($2.3 million) of total imports ($2.6 million). The United States ran a $1.7 million trade deficit in live turkeys over the period, but surpluses of $3.5 million in cranberries and $10.6 million in sweet potatoes. (Source: US Census)

13.7 pounds

The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2003 and, if tradition be true, a hearty helping of it was devoured at Thanksgiving time. On the other hand, per capita sweet potato consumption was 4.7 pounds. (From the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006)


$3.6 billion

The value of turkeys shipped by the nation’s poultry processors in 2002. Those located in Arkansas led the way with $581.5 million in shipments, followed by processors in Virginia ($544.2 million) and North Carolina ($453.0 million). Businesses that primarily processed turkeys operated out of 35 establishments, employing about 17,000 people. (Source: US Census [PDF])


$1.00
Cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2004. (From the upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006)

3
Number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2004, with 496 residents; followed by Turkey Creek, La. (357); and Turkey, N.C. (267). There also are 16 townships around the country named “Turkey,” three in Kansas. (Sources: US Census and here)

8

Number of places and townships in the United States that are named “Cranberry” or some spelling variation of the name we call the red, acidic berry (e.g., Cranbury, N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. (Source: US Census)

20

Number of places in the United States named Plymouth, as in “Plymouth Rock,” legendary location of the first Thanksgiving. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 69,797 residents in 2004; Plymouth, Mass., had 54,604. Speaking of Plymouth Rock, there is just one township in the United States named “Pilgrim.” Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 135. (Source: US Census)

107 million

Number of occupied housing units across the nation — all potential gathering places for people to celebrate the holiday. (Source: US Census)

  • Blair Stilwell

    I’m responsible for consumption of at least 45 pounds of turkey a year. I think I just ate close to a pound tonight.

  • Hudge

    Having edited an article on the origins of Thanksgiving for American Spirit Magazine http://www.dar.org/natsociety/magazine.cfm (article is not online), a couple years back, I have to note there are some conflicting claims as to where the first Thanksgiving occurred. It kind of depends on how you define “first” and “thanskgiving” (had to say this as I’m writing this from Arkansas minutes before visiting a certain presidential library.)

  • rex

    If I were a pun person (like someone I know), I’d say that any day one visits that library can be called “turkey day.”

  • rex

    Also, message to Blair: I was going to say something about how that turkey eating habit is blimping you out. (Note to those who may wonder about this inside joke: Blair, a former Hammock Publishing employee and now graduate student, eats constantly but has, like, minus zero body fat.)

  • Hudge

    The funnest fact I came away from that library was that, while the parquet floors in the cabinet room were being finished and the varnish was still wet, a raccoon got into the building and tracked across it. The next a.m., the horrified workers set about trying to remove the tracks. An associate of the former president heard about it and said, leave it, the boss would appreciate that sort of thing. The tracks are still there. It was a big sucker – I mean the raccoon.