Thanksgiving Dinner Conversation: Turkey

Before Halloween, Stacy Conradt filled us up with trivia treats about our favorite sweets. She's back again for another food series leading up to Thanksgiving.

bushturkey.jpg1) The tryptophan in turkey isn't really what makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner "“ you would have to consume truly massive amounts of the meat to achieve such an effect. The likely culprit is probably the amount of food and carbohydrates consumed at most Thanksgiving dinners.

2) In Britain, big turkey dinners are often accompanied by Brussels sprouts and/or parsnips as side dishes.

3) It's tradition every Thanksgiving for the President of the United States to save a turkey from slaughter by "pardoning" it to live out its life at a petting zoo. Historians debate the origin of this tradition. Some say it can be traced back to Harry Truman (he's seen in this 1947 photo posing with a turkey, but his papers have no reference of actually issuing a pardon), while others cite a story about Abe Lincoln pardoning his son's turkey, Jack.

4) The turducken is a turkey stuffed with a duck, which is stuffed with a chicken. John Madden is a big fan.


Other variations include the gurducken, goose stuffed with turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken; the osturducken, ostrich stuffed with turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken; and the bustergophechiduckneaealcockidgeoverwingailusharkolanbler, a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stugged with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with a Ortolan Bunting stuffed with a Garden Warbler stuffed with a single olive. Got that?? [Image source]

5) James "Kibo" Parry created the tofurkurkeyfurky in 2005 "“ by sandwiching a real turkey between layers of tofurkey (tofu turkey).

We'll end this series with two questions. Do any of you have any special Thanksgiving traditions? Do you serve any non-traditional food?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday: Pumpkin Pie. Tuesday: Yams & Sweet Potatoes. Monday: Cranberry Sauce.

How Do You Stress the Word: THANKSgiving or ThanksGIVing?

Here’s something else to stress about for Thanksgiving: where to put the stress in the word Thanksgiving.

If you’re from California, Iowa, or Delaware, you probably say ThanksGIVing, with the primary stress on the second syllable. If you’re from Georgia, Tennessee, or the Texas Panhandle, you probably say THANKSgiving, with the primary stress on the first syllable.

This north-south divide on syllable stress is found for other words like umbrella, guitar, insurance, and pecan. However, those words are borrowed from other languages (Italian, Spanish, French). Sometimes, in the borrowing process, competing stress patterns settle into regional differences. Just as some borrowed words get first syllable stress in the South and second syllable stress in the North, French words like garage and ballet get first syllable stress in the UK and second syllable stress in the U.S.

Thanksgiving, however, is an English word through and through. And if it behaved like a normal English word, it would have stress on the first syllable. Consider other words with the same noun-gerund structure just like it: SEAfaring, BAbysitting, HANDwriting, BULLfighting, BIRDwatching, HOMEcoming, ALMSgiving. The stress is always up front, on the noun. Why, in Thanksgiving alone, would stress shift to the GIVE?

The shift to the ThanksGIVing pronunciation is a bit of a mystery. Linguist John McWhorter has suggested that the loss of the stress on thanks has to do with a change in our concept of the holiday, that we “don’t truly think about Thanksgiving as being about thankfulness anymore.” This kind of thing can happen when a word takes on a new, more abstract sense. When we use outgoing for mail that is literally going out, we are likely to stress the OUT. When we use it as a description of someone’s personality ("She's so outgoing!"), the stress might show up on the GO. Stress can shift with meaning.

But the stress shift might not be solely connected to the entrenchment of our turkey-eating rituals. The thanksGIVing stress pattern seems to have pre-dated the institution of the American holiday, according to an analysis of the meter of English poems by Mark Liberman at Language Log. ThanksGIVing has been around at least since the 17th century. However you say it, there is precedent to back you up. And room enough to focus on both the thanks and the giving.

TAKWest, Youtube
Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]


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