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Why Do We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

Most of us can’t imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without a moist and delicious Turkey as the centerpiece of the meal. Here are 5 reasons this tasty bird became part of the most important meal of the year!

Plymouth Colonists and Wampanoag Indians

It is believed that venison and fowl were served during a feast celebrated by Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians in 1621. Since lobster, goose, duck, seal, eel, and cod were plentiful during this time, these foods were also most likely part of the "First Thanksgiving Feast." It is assumed that turkey was also present in the banquet, as a letter by Edward Winslow mentions a trip hunting wild turkey before the meal.

 

 

 

 

Queen Elizabeth

Another legend says that back in the 16th century in England, Queen Elizabeth received news that the Spanish Armada, planning an attack to her country, sunk on its way to England. Because of her joy for this unexpected turn of events, she ordered a goose to be served. Inspired by Queen Elizabeth's action, the Pilgrims roasted turkeys instead of goose to celebrate when they returned to America. Wild turkeys were more abundant and easier to find than geese.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Benjamin Franklin

Founding father Benjamin Franklin strongly believed that the turkey is a much better representation of the United States than the bald eagle. According to Franklin, "The turkey is a much more respectable Bird and withal a true original Native of North America." He even wanted to name the turkey our national bird! Obviously, not everyone agreed with him. But turkeys were plentiful in North America, and they took their spots in the limelight every Thanksgiving celebration.

 

 

 

Practical and Affordable

Turkeys have always been fresh, affordable, and big enough to feed a crowd. Americans have long preferred large poultry for celebrations because the birds could be slaughtered without a huge economic sacrifice. Cows were useful for milk and chicken for eggs, thus turkey took center stage at special occasions.

 

 

 

Convenient and Delicious

Among the big birds, turkey was ideal for a fall feast. Turkeys born in the spring would spend about seven months eating insects and worms on the farm, growing to about 10 pounds by Thanksgiving. Wild turkeys usually feed on acorns and other natural products, which give turkey meat the ultimate taste.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Just For Fun - Miscellaneous Turkey Trivia!

- The long fleshy skin that hangs over a turkey's beak is called a snood.

- The color of a wild turkey's naked head and neck area can change blue when mating.

- Male turkeys are nicknamed "toms" while females are called "hens."

- When turkeys reach maturity they can have as many as 3,500 feathers.

- Wild turkeys can run up to 55 miles an hour.

- Turkeys have a 270-degree field vision and have incredible hearing. 

 
 
 
 

Try these easy turkey recipes for your Thanksgiving dinner:

Herb Smoked Turkey

Easy Roasted Turkey

BBQ Turkey

Roasted Turkey with Fruit