By Jessica Klinner
It’s that time of the year again. You know, the time to stuff your face with delicious casseroles, glazed meats and pies until you pass out from a food coma. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Thanksgiving. Every year, we gather with family and friends to celebrate our lives and enjoy great food and company. With Thanksgiving less than a week away, here are 10 interesting facts about Thanksgiving you probably didn’t know.
1. The first Thanksgiving dinner took place in Plymouth Colony (modern day Massachusetts) in October 1621. English men and Wampanoag Indian men were present. Very few women, if any, attended the first Thanksgiving.
2. The first Thanksgiving lasted three days! It was a celebration of the first harvest in Plymouth Colony. The men spent most of the time eating and hunting. If our modern-day Thanksgiving feasts lasted three days, we would all be in serious food comas.
3. Staple menu items like green bean casserole, dressing, and sweet potatoes would not have appeared on the first Thanksgiving table. The Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians would have enjoyed venison, birds, fish, clams, nuts, pumpkins, carrots, peas and squashes.
4. George Washington advocated for Thanksgiving to become an official holiday on Oct. 3, 1789. However, the holiday did not become official in the U.S. until Abraham Lincoln declared it so in 1863, making 2013 the 150th anniversary.
5. In 1940, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the modern date of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. Retailers wanted Roosevelt to move the holiday to the fourth Thursday instead of the last Thursday of the month to ensure that shoppers would have enough time to get their Christmas shopping done. If you’re someone who hates how Thanksgiving is overlooked because of the coming of the Christmas season, this shows just how long retailers have controlled the holiday.
6. At first, the American South recognized Thanksgiving as a “Yankee” holiday and did not celebrate it. After the country reunited against a common enemy during the Spanish-American War, Southerners began to celebrate the holiday. If it had not been for that, the South would have never contributed dishes like sweet potatoes and pecan pie.
7. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked was 2,020 pounds. Measuring over 12 feet long, the pie consisted of 900 pounds of pumpkin, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, seven pounds of cinnamon, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, two pounds of pumpkin spice and 250 pounds of pie crust.
8. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in New York City in 1924. Originally, the famous parade was called Macy’s Christmas Parade to signify the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Today, some 3 million people attend the parade and around 44 million watch it on television. It has become a tradition for many families to watch the parade to start off their Thanksgiving festivities.
9. The first football game that took place on Thanksgiving was in 1934 when the Detroit Lions took on the Chicago Bears with 26,000 fans present. The NBC radio network broadcast the game on 94 stations across the country, making it the first national Thanksgiving football broadcast. Since then, the Lions have played a game every year on Thanksgiving. In 1956, people across the country could watch the game on television for the first time.
10. Minnesota produces the most turkeys every year in the U.S. Indiana, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri and Virginia are also top producers. Together, these six states account for nearly two-thirds of the 248 million turkeys that will be raised in the U.S. this year.