Thanksgiving is this Thursday! And while most of us look at it as a day of eating and watching sports, here are six quirky factoids to mull over while you’re recovering from your turkey coma!
Just a note about Thanksgiving in the United States…
In the United States, we trace Thanksgiving back to the Pilgrims who came from England in 1621 and settled in Massachusetts. The "first" Thanksgiving celebrated the Pilgrims' first harvest in the New World. It's been a national holiday in the U.S. since 1863, and is celebrated on the last Thursday of November.
1. Oh Canada!
Yup, our neighbors to the north celebrate Thanksgiving, too! In Canada, it’s celebrated on the second Monday of October.
And just in case you thought only countries in North America celebrated Thanksgiving – think again! Germany celebrates Thanksgiving on the first Sunday of October. Japan does it every November 23rd. Grenada’s Thanksgiving is on October 25th and Norfolk Island (in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand) celebrates Thanksgiving on the last Wednesday of November!
2. Are you eating a dinosaur?
Did you know that paleontologists think the turkey could be related to the Tyrannosaurus rex? Uh, huh. Here’s the connection – the wishbone (the technical name is the furcula), which is key to a bird’s ability to fly because it’s fairly elastic, it’s a connecting point for muscles and a brace for a bird’s wings, has also been found in many two-legged dinosaurs, one of them being the T-rex. Cool, huh?
Turkey Trivia Double Bonus:
Evidence of turkey domestication dates back to between 100 BC and 100 AD, but some scientists think it goes back as far as 800 BC.
The costume of Sesame Street’s Big Bird is thought to be made of turkey feathers.
3. The Original Mr. Potato Head?
What would Thanksgiving be without mashed potatoes? Well, we have Antoine Parmentier to thank! Parmentier, a French doctor, was a HUGE fan and promoter of potatoes, orchestrating publicity stunts for which he still remains famous, including hosting dinners at which potato dishes were prominently featured (to dinner guests like Benjamin Franklin).
Anyway, in 1771 he was the first to make mashed potatoes as part of a competition. Dr. P surely left his mark, with many potato dishes named after him, like potage parmentier – potato and leek soup! While Dr. Parmentier has many other contributions to nutrition and health, including establishing the first mandatory smallpox vaccination campaign under Napoleon and pioneering the extraction of sugar from sugar beets, I’ll always think of him as the original Mr. Potato Head.
Potato Bonus: There were no potatoes in Europe until about the 15th century. They’re actually native to South America.
4. Stuffing vs. Dressing
Apparently, the word “dressing” replaced the word “stuffing” because stuffing was thought to be offensive! Uh, you know how where you put “dressing’ to cook it, right?
Stuffing Bonus: Stove Top Stuffing was invented in 1975 by home economist, Ruth Siems for the company that is now Kraft Foods, Inc. Thank you, Ruth.
5. Crazy for Crans
The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of cranberries, with the state of Wisconsin producing the most, followed by the states of Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington.
6. Pie Personalities
According to the American Pie Council there are certain pie personalities. Who knew? If you like apple pie, you are independent realistic and compassionate. If you’re all about pecan pie, you’re thoughtful and analytical. If you can’t get enough of chocolate pie, you’re loving, and if you're the first one to the pumpkin pie, you are funny and independent.
Now you have a few tidbits of trivia to impress your nosy Aunt Gertrude, so you can hopefully avoid answering her question (at least for a few minutes) about when you’re going to get married!
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Let me know about it on Facebook or in the comment section below!