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Your Official Groundhog Round Up

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In case you haven't already heard, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring! If you're not sold on Phil's accuracy rate, however, there are plenty of other groundhogs you can consult instead. Here they are, complete with what they declared today:

1. Buckeye Chuck

Tired of waiting on word from across state lines, Ohio managed to find their own forecasting groundhog back in the 1970s. Hailing from Marion, Ohio, Buckeye Chuck is said to be accurate about 75 percent of the time.  His 2016 verdict: Six more weeks of winter.

2. General Beauregard Lee

General Beau is likely the only groundhog with not one, but two honorary doctorates. His degree from the University of Georgia declares that he is a "Doctor of Weather Prognostication", while Georgia State bestowed a "Doctor of Southern Groundology" title upon him. As befitting of any grand Atlantean, General Beau has his very own version of Tara. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

3. Balzac Billy

Despite the fact the Balzac Billy in Alberta, Canada, is just a dude in a groundhog costume crawling out of a mulch pile (or perhaps because of it), "The Prairie Prognosticator" boasts about an 80 percent accuracy rate. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

4. Staten Island Chuck

This little guy, whose formal name is Charles G. Hogg, is notorious for nipping Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the 2009 prediction ceremony at the Staten Island Zoo. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

5. Wiarton Willie

Willie, an albino groundhog, has been predicting the weather since the 1950s—even though he was nothing but a fur hat back then. The story goes something like this: In 1957, a fellow named Mac McKenzie used Groundhog Day as an excuse to throw a boozy bash for his friends. Reporter Frank Teskey somehow got wind of the affair and misinterpreted that there was a big Groundhog Day festival in Wiarton, Ontario. When he arrived and discovered that the gathering was just a few guys drinking with no groundhog in sight, Teskey complained that he was going to be in trouble for having no story. In response, McKenzie grabbed a white fur hat from a female party-goer, half-buried it in the snow outside, and declared that Wiarton was home to a rare albino groundhog. The legend has grown, and now thousands of people show up yearly to celebrate Wiarton Willie, who has been upgraded from a fur hat to a real, live groundhog. His 2016 verdict: Six more weeks of winter.

6. Shubenacadie Sam

Thanks to Nova Scotia's time zone, Shubenacadie Sam at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park is the first to make a prediction for North America every year. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

7. Queen Charlotte

Queen Charlotte the groundhog made her public debut in Charlotte, North Carolina, this year. Though she predicted six more weeks of winter last year, she did so in a private ceremony—at the time, the Queen was new to the limelight and wasn't ready to perform in front of a crowd of onlookers. Her 2016 verdict: Early spring.

8. Jimmy the Groundhog

It seems that Jimmy the Groundhog from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, wasn't too thrilled about coming out of hibernation last year. When Jimmy's handler held him up to Mayor Jon Freund's ear to "whisper" his weather findings, the groundhog gave the mayor a little nip on the ear. Jimmy didn't get the chance to get so up close and personal this year—he had to stay in his cage for the official announcement. His 2016 verdict: Early spring.

9. Chuckles

Chuckles the Groundhog makes her predictions live from the Lutz Children's Museum in Manchester, Connecticut. They're currently on Chuckles VIII, an orphaned groundhog who was sworn in to her position in 2013 using a copy of the Farmer's Almanac. Her 2016 verdict: Early spring.

10. Polk County Paula

Polk County Paula, a groundhog mascot from Des Moines, predicts the weather and distributes free bottles of Miller High Life. It probably helps the "more winter" predictions go down a little easier. Her 2016 verdict: Early spring.

Good news: Early spring has the majority. Happy Groundhog Day!

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Big Questions
Why Don't We Eat Turkey Tails?
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Turkey sandwiches. Turkey soup. Roasted turkey. This year, Americans will consume roughly 245 million birds, with 46 million being prepared and presented on Thanksgiving. What we don’t eat will be repurposed into leftovers.

But there’s one part of the turkey that virtually no family will have on their table: the tail.

Despite our country’s obsession with fattening, dissecting, and searing turkeys, we almost inevitably pass up the fat-infused rear portion. According to Michael Carolan, professor of sociology and associate dean for research at the College for Liberal Arts at Colorado State University, that may have something to do with how Americans have traditionally perceived turkeys. Consumption was rare prior to World War II. When the birds were readily available, there was no demand for the tail because it had never been offered in the first place.

"Tails did and do not fit into what has become our culinary fascination with white meat," Carolan tells Mental Floss. "But also from a marketing [and] processor standpoint, if the consumer was just going to throw the tail away, or will not miss it if it was omitted, [suppliers] saw an opportunity to make additional money."

Indeed, the fact that Americans didn't have a taste for tail didn't prevent the poultry industry from moving on. Tails were being routed to Pacific Island consumers in the 1950s. Rich in protein and fat—a turkey tail is really a gland that produces oil used for grooming—suppliers were able to make use of the unwanted portion. And once consumers were exposed to it, they couldn't get enough.

“By 2007,” according to Carolan, “the average Samoan was consuming more than 44 pounds of turkey tails every year.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Samoans also have alarmingly high obesity rates of 75 percent. In an effort to stave off contributing factors, importing tails to the Islands was banned from 2007 until 2013, when it was argued that doing so violated World Trade Organization rules.

With tradition going hand-in-hand with commerce, poultry suppliers don’t really have a reason to try and change domestic consumer appetites for the tails. In preparing his research into the missing treat, Carolan says he had to search high and low before finally finding a source of tails at a Whole Foods that was about to discard them. "[You] can't expect the food to be accepted if people can't even find the piece!"

Unless the meat industry mounts a major campaign to shift American tastes, Thanksgiving will once again be filled with turkeys missing one of their juicier body parts.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Food
Here's the Butterball Hotline's Most Frequently Asked Turkey Question
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If you’re preparing to conquer a whole turkey for the first time this Thanksgiving, you may have some questions. Like, is bigger really better? How long should the turkey rest? And is dunking the bird in a deep-fryer a bad idea? But if data from the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is any indication, the first and most important question you have concerns defrosting. As Fox News reports, how to properly thaw a turkey is the hotline's most frequently asked question—and has been for some time.

Dial the Butterball experts in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and they’ll likely tell you that there are two ways to handle a frozen turkey. The first is to unwrap it, place it on a tray, breast-side up, and leave it to sit in the refrigerator for a few days. The rule of thumb is to allow one day for every four pounds of turkey you’re thawing. So if you have an eight-pound bird, begin the defrosting process two days before Thanksgiving; if it’s 16 pounds, you need to let it thaw for four days.

Don’t panic if you’re reading this Wednesday night. There’s a quicker method for home cooks who prefer to wait until the last minute to start thinking about Thanksgiving dinner. Empty and clean the sink in your kitchen and fill it with cold water. With the plastic wrapping still on, submerge the turkey in the bath, breast-side down, and leave it alone. After 30 minutes, change out the water and flip the turkey so that it’s breast-side up. Repeat the process until the meat has fully thawed, which should take half an hour per pound. (So if you’re willing to stay up the night before, you can have a frozen turkey oven-ready by Thanksgiving morning.)

Have more burning questions about your dinner’s starring dish? You can call or text Butterball for guidance between now and December 24 (for those Christmas Eve questions). For additional turkey-cooking expertise, check out our list of tips from real chefs.

[h/t Fox News]

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