Thanksgiving Trivia

Thanksgiving Trivia
November 27, 2013 Kate Rudy

What was served at the first Thanksgiving? When was the first Thanksgiving really held? Get answers to these questions and more in our round-up of Thanksgiving trivia.

Turkey

  • President Jefferson called a federal Thanksgiving proclamation “the most ridiculous idea ever conceived.”
  • The first Thanksgiving in America actually occurred in 1541, when Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his expedition held a thanksgiving celebration in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle.
  • Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, popcorn, milk, corn on the cob, and cranberries were not foods present on the first Thanksgiving’s feast table.
  • Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.
  • Now a Thanksgiving dinner staple, cranberries were actually used by Native Americans to treat arrow wounds and to dye clothes.
  • Thanksgiving is an amalgam of different traditions, including ancient harvest festivals, the religious New England Puritan Thanksgiving, the traditional harvest celebrations of England and New England, and changing political and ideological assumptions of Native Americans
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the next-to-last Thursday in November to prolong the holiday shopping season
  • Only male turkeys gobble and, therefore, are called gobblers.
  • There are four places in the United States named after Thanksgiving’s traditional main course. Turkey Creek, La., was the most populous in 2012, with 440 residents, followed by Turkey, Texas (415), Turkey, N.C. (295) and Turkey Creek, Ariz. (294). There are also two townships in Pennsylvania with “Turkey” in the name: Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot.
  • There are seven places in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the popular side dish served at Thanksgiving dinners. Cranberry Township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2012, with 28,832 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next (6,608).
  • There are only two places in the United States named Pilgrim: One, a township in Dade County, Mo., had a 2012 population of 127; the other, a census designated place in Michigan, had a 2010 population of 11. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,312 in 2012, and Mayflower Village, Calif., whose population was 5,515 in 2010.

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