11 Surprising Thanksgiving Facts
A lot goes into making Thanksgiving the holiday it is.
Credit: Turkey Image via Shutterstock

Do you love Thanksgiving? I mean do you really LOVE everything about the holiday, from the delicious food to seeing your crazy relatives? Then you are going to be amazed at what goes into making the holiday what it is. And you thought cooking your turkey was a challenge.

1) Are you ready for a day (or three) of eating?

If you can't make it through the daylong celebration of food, football and family be thankful that you weren't around for the first Thanksgiving. That celebration took place in the fall of 1621 in Plymouth Colony between European settlers and the Wampanoag Indians and it lasted three days. Talk about a food coma.

2) What's in a name?

How do you think they celebrate Thanksgiving in Turkey, Texas?
How do you think they celebrate Thanksgiving in Turkey, Texas?
Credit: Turkey Image via Shutterstock

If you think that your Thanksgiving celebration is something special, chances are it has nothing on the celebration in Turkey Creek, La. That town, which has only 440 residents, is one of four towns in the United States with the word turkey in its name. The others are Turkey, Texas, Turkey, N.C. and Turkey Creek, Ariz.

There are also seven towns named after popular Thanksgiving side dishes. Towns and cities named after cranberries are the most popular. In total, seven townships and cities in the United States are named for cranberries, though most have different spellings. [Pardon a Turkey? 7 Thanksgiving Traditions Explained]

3) Who doesn't eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

More people than you may have thought. According to the National Turkey Federation, 88 percent of Americans have turkey on Thanksgiving. So if our math is correct, that leaves 12 percent of people who don't eat turkey on the holiday. Maybe they go for Tofurky? Or Turducken?

4) That's a lot of turkeys

Filling America's appetite for turkeys is a tall task. Last year there were 254 million turkeys raised in the United States, which is up 2 percent from the previous year. The most popular state for raising turkeys was Minnesota, which raised 46 million turkeys last year. Minnesota, along with North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, Indiana and California, accounted for 70 percent of the turkeys raised in the United States last year.

5) More popular than Christmas and Easter?

Do you eat turkey on Christmas and Easter?
Do you eat turkey on Christmas and Easter?
Credit: Turkey Image via Shutterstock

Even with 12 percent of people not eating turkey on the holiday, Thanksgiving is still the most popular holiday for turkey consumption. It is estimated that 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving, beating out the number eaten on Christmas and Easter combined.

6) That's a big bird

The average turkey purchased for Thanksgiving weighs 16 lbs. (7 kilograms), the National Turkey Federation says. White meat makes up 70 percent of turkeys, while dark meat makes up the other 30 percent. In case you are wondering, white meat has fewer calories and fat than dark meat (for all those dieters trying to make it through the holidays).

7) We can't handle it all

Some of what you eat on Thanksgiving is imported from places that don't even celebrate the holiday. For example, 99.8 percent of imported turkeys come from Canada (they actually do celebrate Thanksgiving, but in October), while the Dominican Republic produces 51 percent of imported sweet potatoes. 

8) Thank you berry much

Do you need cranberry sauce with your turkey?
Do you need cranberry sauce with your turkey?
Credit: Ocean Spray oceanspray.com

A lot of cranberries are needed to accompany all that turkey on Thanksgiving. In all, 768 million lbs. (350 million kilograms) of cranberries were produced in the United States last year. Two states — Wisconsin and Massachusetts — were responsible for most of the production, producing 450 million and 210 million lbs. (200 million and 95 million kg) of cranberries, respectively.

9) How sweet it is

Satisfying America's sweet tooth takes a few billion pounds of sweet potatoes. Last year alone the United States produced 2.6 billion lbs. (1 billion kg) of sweet potatoes. North Carolina led production with 1.2 billion lbs. (0.5 billion kg).

10) Some turkeys can't fly but they have been to space

Turkey was one of the first things eaten on the moon.
Turkey was one of the first things eaten on the moon.
Credit: Moon Image via Shutterstock

In fact, turkey was the first meal enjoyed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when they were on the moon. Now you can be the talk of your dinner table this holiday — a perfect turkey tidbit to impress holiday dinner guests.

11) Bald eagle who?

It's hard to imagine the turkey as the official bird of the United States, but if Ben Franklin had had his way, it could have been. In a letter to his daughter, Franklin referred to the turkey saying, "I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country! The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America."

All facts are from the United States Census Bureau and the National Turkey Federation.