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Tuesday Turnip

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It's time for another whimsical Tuesday Turnip Google search wherein I type a random phrase and we see what kind of interesting factoids "turn-up."

Seeing as Thanksgiving is upon us, today I decided to type in "turkey consumption," unearthing the following cool list of factoids from a bunch of different sites:

"¢ Turkeys originated in North and Central America, and evidence indicates that they have been around for over 10 million years.

"¢ The American Indians hunted wild turkey for its sweet, juicy meat as early as 1000 AD. Turkey feathers were used to stabilize arrows and adorn ceremonial dress, and the spurs on the legs of wild tom turkeys were used as projectiles on arrowheads. They also shared a place in their folklore. The Navajos tell of an enormous hen turkey that flew over their fields bringing them corn and teaching them how to cultivate their crops. The Apache Indians considered the turkey timid and wouldn't eat it or use its feathers on their arrows.

"¢ In Mexico, the turkey was considered a sacrificial bird. As an article of tribute Montezuma received 365,000 turkeys per year from his subjects.

"¢ Benjamin Franklin was displeased when the bald eagle was chosen over his proposed "original native" turkey as a national symbol. He said the turkey is a more respectable bird and a true original native of America.

"¢ Until 1863, Thanksgiving day had not been celebrated annually since the first feast in 1621. This changed in 1863 when Sarah Josepha Hale encouraged Abraham Lincoln to set aside the last Thursday in November "as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer."

"¢ When U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin sat down to eat their first meal on the moon in their historic 1969 voyage, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all the trimmings.

"¢ Ninety percent of American homes eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Fifty percent eat turkey on Christmas.
"¢ Turkey eggs are pale creamy tan with brown speckles, and twice as large as chicken eggs. They hatch in 28 days. A baby turkey is called a poult and is tan and brown.

"¢ Domesticated turkeys (farm raised) cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances at up to 55 miles per hour. Wild turkeys are also fast on the ground, running at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

"¢ Only male turkeys (toms) gobble; females (hens) make a clicking noise. The gobble is a seasonal call during the Spring and Fall. Hens are attracted for mating when a tom gobbles. Wild toms love to gobble when they hear loud sounds or settle in for the night.

"¢ Turkeys have great hearing, a poor sense of smell, but an excellent sense of taste. They can also see in color, and have excellent visual acuity and a wide field of vision (about 270 degrees), which makes sneaking up on them difficult.

"¢ Turkeys are fed mainly a balanced diet of corn and soybean meal mixed with a supplement of vitamins and minerals. On average, it takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30-pound tom turkey.

"¢ Mature turkeys have 3,500 or so feathers at maturity.

"¢ The Guiness Book of Records states that the largest dressed weight (cooked, with dressing) recorded for a turkey is 39.09 kg (86 lb.) on December 12, 1989.

"¢ In 1999, about 273 million turkeys were raised in the United States. An estimated 276 million turkeys will be raised in 2000.

"¢ More than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten during Thanksgiving.

"¢ The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds. A 15-pound turkey typically has about 70% white meat and 30% dark meat.

"¢ Americans feast on approximately 535 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving.

"¢ Last year 2.74 billion pounds of turkey were processed in the United States.

"¢ Californians are the biggest turkey eaters in the country. They eat three pounds more turkey than the average American consumer.

"¢ The good old-fashioned turkey sandwich is the most popular way for Americans to prepare the fowl, accounting for 44 percent of consumption.

"¢ North Carolina produces 61 million turkeys annually, more than any other state. Minnesota and Arkansas are number two and three.

"¢ In the last twenty years, Americans' love of turkey has soared. Consumption based upon USDA data indicates:

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Food
Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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iStock

There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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