In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims, early settlers of Plymouth Colony, held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. The legacy of thanks and the feast have survived the centuries, as the event became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.
The number of turkeys expected to be raised in the United States in 2011. That’s up 2 percent from the number raised during 2010. The turkeys produced in 2010 together weighed 7.11 billion pounds and were valued at $ 4.37 billion. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)
The preliminary estimate of turkeys Minnesota is expected to raise in 2011. The Gopher State was tops in turkey production, followed by North Carolina (30.0 million), Arkansas (30.0 million), Missouri (18.0 million), Virginia (17.5 million) and Indiana (16.0 million). These six states together account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkeys produced in 2011. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)
2.4 billion pounds
The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2010. North Carolina (972 million pounds) produced more sweet potatoes than any other state. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)
2.01 billion bushels
The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls and pie crust — produced in the United States in 2011. Kansas, Montana and North Dakota accounted for about 33 percent of the nation’s wheat production. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)
The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2009, with no doubt a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time. Per capita sweet potato consumption was 5.3 pounds.
(Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Of all the places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey Creek, La., was the most populous in 2010, with 441 residents, followed by Turkey, Texas (421), Turkey Creek, Ariz. (294), and Turkey, N.C. (292). There are also 11 townships around the country with Turkey in their names, including three in Kansas. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census)
Number of places and townships in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the acidic red berry (e.g., Cranbury, N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2010, with 28,098 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next (6,685). (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census)
Number of places and townships in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 70,576 residents in 2010; Plymouth, Mass., had 56,468. There is just one township in the United States named Pilgrim. Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 132 in 2010. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,234 in 2010, and Mayflower Village, Calif., whose population was 5,515 in 2010. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census)