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The Lighter Side (Nov 2014)

November 14, 2014


When the guests around your Thanksgiving table are busy stuffing their bellies today, here's one way to break the lull in conversation: dazzle them with some tasty turkey trivia.  Here's ten to get you started. We bet they'll eat them up!
1. A tradition is born: TV dinners have Thanksgiving to thank.  In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving -- by 26 TONS!  Some industrious soul came up with a brilliant plan: Why not slice up the meat and repackage with some trimmings on the side?  Thus, the first TV dinner was born.
2. Going shopping? Not if you're a plumber.  Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for them, according to Roto-Rooter, the nation's largest plumbing service.  After all, someone has to clean up after household guests who "overwhelm the system."
3. This land is my land: There are four places in the U.S. named Turkey.  Louisiana's Turkey Creek is the most populous, with a whopping 440 residents.  There's also Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona.  Oh, let's not forget the two townships in Pennsylvania creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot.
4. Leaving a legacy: When Abe Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was thanks to the tireless efforts of a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. What is her other claim to fame? She also wrote the nursery rhyme, "Mary had a Little Lamb."
5. Gobble, gobble? Not so fast. Only male turkeys, called toms, gobble. Females, called hens, cackle.
6. Have it your way? If Ben Franklin did, the turkey would be our national bird. An eagle, he wrote in a letter to his daughter, had "bad moral character." A turkey, on the other hand, was a "much more respectable bird."
7. Born in the USA.: Thanksgiving is not just an American holiday.  Canadians celebrate it too. Except they do it the second Monday in October.
8. Grab that drumstick: The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds and has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
9. Doomed from birth: Those poor turkeys; they don't stand a chance.  Just look at the name we gave them.  A turkey less than 12-weeks-old is called a fryer-roaster.
10. Talking turkey: Why is it called a turkey?  This will take some explaining. Back in the day, the Europeans took a liking to the guinea fowls imported to the continent.  Since the birds were imported by Turkish merchants, the English called them turkeys. Later, when the Spaniards came to America, they found a bird that tasted like those guinea fowls.  When they were sent to Europe, the English called these birds "turkeys" as well.
Sources: From CNN and Smithsonian Magazine, Roto-Rooter, Census Bureau, National Women's History Museum, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Library of Congress, Government of Canada, CNN Belief Blog, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dan Lewis' "Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind The World's Most Interesting Facts."
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