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Thanksgiving by the Numbers



Eastern wild turkeys. (Image credit: Maslowski/National Wild Turkey Federation)

Thanksgiving, which falls on Thursday (Nov. 24) this year, is many Americans' favorite national holiday. We've got the stats to prove it.

46 million:


(Image credit:

Number of turkeys consumed last Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. At an average weight of 16 pounds apiece, that's 736 million pounds of poultry altogether. And at an average cost of $1.19 per pound last November, $875 million was spent buying those birds for the big day. The estimated 88 percent of Americans who ate that turkey ate approximately 2.7 pounds each. We're hoping that wasn't all in one sitting.


The number of Americans who live in towns whose names pay homage to the main dish namely, Turkey, Texas (pop. 465); Turkey Creek, La. (pop. 363); and Turkey, N.C. (pop. 270).

20 mph:


Usain Bolt winning the 100 m final 2008 Olympics. (Image credit: Creative Commons | SeizureDog)

The maximum running speed of a wild turkey. The fastest human, Usain Bolt, averaged 23.5 mph during his world record 100-meter dash at the 2009 World Championships.

20 percent:

The chunk of America's annual cranberry consumption that takes place during Thanksgiving week. According to Ocean Spray, the leading seller of cranberry products, 80 million pounds of cranberries go toward satisfying the nation's requirements for cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. (There's no denying it goes great with turkey and stuffing.)

1.5 billion pounds:

Weight of all the pumpkins produced in the U.S. in 2010. Some went into making the 1 million pumpkin pies that sold for $5.99 apiece at CostCo last Thanksgiving.

12 feet:


Public domain image

The diameter of the largest pumpkin pie ever baked, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The 2,020-pound pie was baked in 2005 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, and included 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon, 2 pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of crust.


The year of the first Thanksgiving feast, according to most accounts. The celebration took place in Plymouth, Mass., after the pilgrims there completed a successful harvest.



Photograph of Abraham Lincoln taken in November 1863. Public domain image.

The year President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday thanks, in large part, to the tireless effort of a journalist named Sarah Josephus Hale. For 20 years, Hale bombarded important public figures, including five presidents, with countless letters asking for the creation of a national holiday of Thanksgiving. Lincoln finally gave in following the victories of Union forces at the Civil War battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg.


The first year a football game was televised on Thanksgiving Day. That year, the Green Bay Packers played the Detroit Lions, and they'll do so again this year. Watching football before or after Thanksgiving dinner has become an American tradition. [Why Do the Lions And Cowboys Always Play Thanksgiving Football Games? ]

300,000 cubic feet:

The amount of helium needed last year to keep the 15 giant balloons used in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade afloat. That's less than 1 percent of the nation's annual helium consumption.

Live Science Staff
Live Science Staff
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