By now we’ve all heard the stories about the Indians and Pilgrims coming together to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in 1621. From the traditional feast (probably wasn’t turkey) to holiday traditions (they simply just gave thanks), a lot has obviously changed since then.
With no disrespect to the origins of this holiday, let’s bring your Turkey Day knowledge up to speed, courtesy of November magazine issues. How many of these fun facts did you know?
1. Cranberries are really, really popular at Thanksgiving. According to Taste of Home magazine, we’ll consume 20 percent of the country’s annual crop this week, many thanks to the states of Wisconsin and Massachusetts which produce the respectively No. 1 and 2 largest crops.
2. Cranberries don’t grow on trees. They flourish in bogs and marshes and are harvested by flooding to make the ripe fruits rise to the top. And they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Some roots in Massachusetts bogs are purported to be 150 years old, says Taste of Home.
3. Yams are tops on the table. A whopping 50 percent of holiday diners go for the orange, according to numbers in Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine. Green beans, Brussels sprouts (yes, Brussels sprouts) and peas round out the less-than-majority vote-getting sides.
4. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade used to be the real deal. As in parading live animals along the route courtesy of the Central Park Zoo. That short-lived tradition only lasted three years, ending in 1926, when they were replaced with inflatables much to the thanks of many a frightened spectator.
5. It’s a heavy job, but (a lot of) somebody’s got to do it. Those lovable balloon animals are pretty hard to handle, each weighing as much as 500 pounds apiece and requiring as many as 100 people to steer the largest of them, says Every Day With Rachael Ray. When they’re not being used, they’re stored in an old Tootsie Roll factory in New Jersey.
6. Pardon me! One lucky bird gets all the glory the day before Thanksgiving when the President pardons him (or her). But two turkeys actually get spared, according to Food Network Magazine. The No. 2 serves as a backup in case the one tapped by the Turkey Federation gets stage fright. That’s not to say the understudy gets cut–literally or figuratively. Both birds spend their final days at Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland’s Frontierland.
7. I just called to say… help me with this turkey! Wouldn’t you know it? There’s a hotline for everything, even for assistance with Butterball turkeys. Under the supervision of director (and 24-year veteran) Mary Clingman, 50 trained operators will assist more than 100,000 callers with advice on everything from thawing to common cooking uh-ohs between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31. If you need help, the number is 800-288-8372.