Are you and your family looking forward to a delicious, traditional Thanksgiving meal? Then break out the oyster shuckers because the first feast the at Plymouth Colony in 1621 – right off the coast of Massachusetts – included seafood like lobster, fish, and clams, as well as venison, carrier pigeon and waterfowl. Granted, it also featured fare that resembles the modern Thanksgiving meal like wild turkey, Indian corn, berries, fruits, pumpkins and squash, but overall it looked much different than it does today.
Here are some other Thanksgiving facts you may not have known:
• In the mid-19th century the woman who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Sarah Josepha Hale, campaigned for 40 years to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. In 1863 a magazine editor finally got President Abraham Lincoln to declare the national holiday.
• Thomas Jefferson thought Thanksgiving was “the most ridiculous idea.”
• There are four towns in the United States with the word turkey in its name; Turkey, Texas; Turkey, N.C.; Turkey Creek, Arizona, and Turkey Creek, Louisiana.
• Football on Thanksgiving began as a tradition in 1876 when Yale played Princeton. This went on until 1920 when the National Football Association had six teams play that day. [Note: The Detroit Lions have played every Thanksgiving since 1934].
• Turkey was the first meal enjoyed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when they were on the moon.
• Pilgrims didn’t wear buckled hats and Native Americans didn’t wear loincloths, like the majority of artistic representations of the feast would have you believe. Buckled hats weren’t around until the 18th century and it was really cold in New England in November. Historians believe Native Americans would have been fully clothed.
•Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird. In a letter to his daughter he wrote, “I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country! The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America."
•The day after Thanksgiving is the single busiest of the year for Roto-Rooter’s residential plumbers, according to a press release on their website. “Big holiday meal preparation and cleanup can lead to a lot of unwanted waste in the kitchen drain and garbage disposal. Also, holiday houseguests who require additional clothes washing, showers and toilet flushes put a strain on household plumbing.” It goes on to say, “virtually every traditional Thanksgiving dish is a supreme drain clog culprit.”
•The first TV dinners made by Swanson were a direct reaction to their overestimation of the number of Thanksgiving turkeys they would sell in 1953. The company had 260 tons of turkey to do something with and petitioned employees for ideas. Salesman Gerry Thomas had recently seen a compartmentalized aluminum trey used on an airline and pitched the idea to package the turkey, dressing, peas and sweet potatoes. Swanson rolled out a massive advertising campaign and it was a huge success. It was this campaign that made TV dinners a hit in American homes.
•Butterball launched its Turkey-Talk Line in 1981 to give customers cooking advice. Butterball, the number one turkey processor in the US, handled over 10,000 calls the first year and now handles over 100,000. The line hired its first male employee in 2012.
• It’s debated as to which president first pardoned a turkey. The tradition began in 1947 during the Harry Truman administration, but some historians argue that Abraham Lincoln was the first when he pardoned a turkey his son had as a pet.