Jul 28, 2014
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Thanksgiving By the Numbers

Get these Thanksgiving facts before you're too full of tryptophan to stay awake post-turkey feast.

Thanksgiving By the Numbers

Turkey Day is here, the time to gather with family and stuff yourselves silly. Our celebration today dates back to the 17th century, when the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony held what’s regarded as the first Thanksgiving with a three-day feast in 1621.

It wouldn’t be a holiday without some commercialization, though. Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving. But President Franklin Roosevelt changed it to the fourth Thursday—so a pesky fifth Thursday wouldn’t discourage earlier holiday shopping.

As you sit down to eat today, take note of these Thanksgiving facts and figures, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau.


Places in the U.S. named for Thanksgiving’s main course. An extra Thanksgiving toast to the residents of Turkey Creek, LA; Turkey, TX; Turkey, NC; and Turkey Creek, AZ.


And a happy Thanksgiving to the nine towns named for Thanksgiving’s most marginalized dish, cranberries (or a spelling variation of the berry). A special Garden State salute to Cranbury, NJ.

$12.1 million 

The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys for just the first seven months of 2012. Did you know most of those turkeys come from Canada? A whopping 99.8 percent, actually. (In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we will refrain from a diatribe on Canada’s October Thanksgiving.)

254 million

Not all of our turkeys come from the north. That is the predicted number of turkeys raised in the U.S. in 2012—a 2 percent increase from 2011. Six states—Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia and Indiana— account for two-thirds of the country’s turkeys, with Minnesota leading the way at 46 million.

2.7 billion

Weight in pounds of sweet potato production in the U.S. last year. North Carolina led production at 1.3 billion pounds. (Editor’s note: The Census Bureau apparently doesn’t track marshmallow production.)

A very happy Thanksgiving, Patch readers! 

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