Steve Eighinger

It's time to be thinking about those big birds

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 3, 2017 9:40 am

We're officially in November now, and Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away.

I think it's time we started getting in the holiday spirit, and I don't mean going to a local supermarket and buying a big frozen bird.

First, let's examine some of the little-known truths connected with Thanksgiving.

º The name James Pierpont probably doesn't ring a bell with too many, but he is the guy who wrote "Jingle Bells" in 1857. Surprisingly, at least to me, is that Pierpont's effort was originally written to be a song for Thanksgiving and was titled "The One Horse Open Sleigh."

Pierpont wrote the song for a Sunday school class in Boston, and its eventual runaway popularity wound up landing it as a Christmas favorite.

"It gained popularity so quickly that it was repeated again at Christmas, and then again, and again, and again," writes David Legg of in obvious -- but hilarious -- tongue-in-cheek fashion.

º Sarah Josepha Hale, a well-respected magazine editor who authored "Mary Had a Little Lamb," is generally credited as the person most responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday in the United States.

Hale's advocacy for the national holiday began in 1846 and lasted 17 years before seeing her dream realized. In support of the proposed national holiday, Hale wrote letters to five presidents -- Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln supported legislation in 1863 that established a "national holiday of Thanksgiving."

º Before Thanksgiving's addition, the only national holidays celebrated in the United States were Washington's Birthday and Independence Day.

OK, enough of the Thanksgiving historical ties. Now, some fun facts.

º The National Turkey Foundation tells us about 700 million pounds of turkey are consumed each Thanksgiving. This roughly equals the combined weight of the 5.6 million residents of Singapore.

º About 280 million turkeys -- give or take a drumstick -- will be sold for Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. That's about one bird per person, if you don't count infants. Latest figures indicate 88 percent of Americans will eat turkey in some form on Thanksgiving.

º The World's largest man-made turkey is in Frazee, Minn., which is also known as the Turkey Capital of the World. The tallest tom reaches 22 feet in the air.

º There are four U.S. towns with "Turkey" in their name -- Turkey Creek, La.; Turkey, Texas; Turkey, N.C.; and Turkey Creek, Ariz.

º The average turkey purchased for Thanksgiving will weigh 16 pounds.

º White meat makes up 70 percent of turkeys.