Thanksgiving Tradition Trivia

Why do turkeys gobble?

Only male turkeys, or toms, can gobble, and they mostly do it in the spring and fall. It is a mating call and attracts the hens. Wild turkeys gobble at loud sounds and when they settle in for the night.

Can turkeys fly?

Turkeys raised on turkey farms cannot fly. Wild turkeys can fly short distances at up to 55 miles per hour.

What’s the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?

Literally and botanically speaking, the two are not related.  Yams are large, starchy, edible tuberous roots that can grow two to three feet long and weigh as much as 80 pounds. They grow in tropical/subtropical countries and need eight to ten months of warm weather to mature. The two words became entwined in our household vernacular partly through a publicity campaign. Early in this century, sweet-potato promoters attached the word yam to the deep orange, moist-fleshed varieties and left the words sweet potato to the smaller, yellowish, dry-fleshed varieties. Today it is common to find either or both words used in supermarkets, but whichever is used, what’s on sale is the sweet potato.


What’s the story on cranberries?

The cranberry is a genuine Native American, Vaccinium macrocarpon, a member of the heath family and a relative of the blueberry and huckleberry. The Pequot Indians of Cape Cod called the berry ibimi, meaning bitter berry, and combined crushed cranberries with dried venison and fat to make pemmican.

The Pilgrims and those who followed appreciated the wild berries but did not start to cultivate them until 1816, when a bog was planted and tended in Dennis on Cape Cod. By then, American and Canadian sailors on long voyages knew they could eat cranberries to protect themselves from scurvy — making them a cranberry counterpart to British “limeys.”

Which was the first department store to sponsor a Thanksgiving parade?

Nope, it wasn’t Macy’s. In 1920, Gimbel’s held the very first Thanksgiving day parade. Macy’s first parade occurred in 1924.

Which President moved the holiday up by a week to help stimulate the Christmas shopping economy?

It was Franklin Roosevelt. But this tactic was not well accepted, and in 1941, Congress made Thanksgiving a federal holiday that would always fall on the fourth Thursday in November.

Why is a male turkey referred to as a Tom turkey?

Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey as our national bird, but when Thomas Jefferson opposed the idea, Franklin mockingly called the turkey “Tom”.

When was the first Thanksgiving Day football game played?

This tradition was started in 1934 by the Detroit Lions, when they played the Chicago Bears.

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3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Tradition Trivia

  1. Very interesting trivia, especially the yam vs. sweet potato item. A friend and I were just discussing this issue a few days ago. I knew we didn’t really have yams in this country but couldn’t remember why — thanks for clarifying.

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