10 Interesting Turkey Facts Ahead of Thanksgiving

By Thom Underwood - November 24, 2015


Thanksgiving is coming up and many of you have already purchased the big bird for the festive meal on Thursday. Here are some interesting facts about this fowl. 

1. The name “turkey” comes from the country of Turkey. A few hundreds of years ago, merchants from the Ottoman empire (headquartered in Turkey) brought fowl from Madagascar and traded it with the rest of Europe. Eventually the “Turkey Fowl” found its way to the new world, where it was bred with native wild fowl for consumption. The name “turkey fowl” was shortened to “turkey”.

2. If Ben Franklin would have had his way, the turkey would be our national bird, not the eagle. Thomas Jefferson said No, and ever since, a male turkey is also known as a “Tom”.

3. The original Thanksgiving feasts celebrated by the Pilgrims did NOT include turkey. They did most likely eat: wild game, berries, acorns, squash, fish, maple syrup, and cranberries.

4. Today, over 90% of Americans eat Turkey on Thanksgiving.

5. Wild turkeys can actually fly; commercially grown turkeys can barely walk.

6. The turkey we consume today is nothing like the turkey Americans ate 100 or 200 years ago. It has been bred for an extra-large breast. A modern turkey is so warped that it can’t strut around very well. A turkey couple cannot even consummate their love in a natural manner; alas, breeding is aided with technology.

7. As a result, there is a resurgence in heritage turkeys, with some birds fetching prices of $100 or more for 13 pounds.

8. The average commercial turkey weighs 15 pounds; the largest one clocked in at over 80 lbs!

9. Turkeys can die of heart attacks. How do we know? In the 1950′s when the Air Force test flights started breaking the sound barrier, nearby turkeys dropped dead. Turns out they were scared to death…

10. The presidential turkey pardon, in which 2 lucky birds’ lives are ceremonially spared by the US president, is a tradition that started with president Harry Truman.

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