A whopping 88 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving every year, according to a survey from the National Turkey Federation. But how much do you really know about the guest of honor at your holiday table? Let’s count down eight fun facts about everyone’s favorite seasonal feathered friend.
1. It Was Ben Franklin’s Bird of Choice
Ben Franklin notoriously lobbied to have the turkey as America’s official bird. Per a letter he wrote to his daughter, he found the turkey to be a “much more respectable bird” than the bald eagle, declaring the former to be “a true original native of America.”
2. Every Year One Gets A Presidential Pardon
Every year, the President of the United States is presented with a live turkey by the National Turkey Federation (NTF). After receiving a presidential pardon and being bestowed with the title of “National Thanksgiving Turkey,” this lucky bird lives out the rest of its life on a nature reserve in Virginia.
3. Getting Gobbling Straight
Not all turkeys gobble! In fact, only the adult men make this oft-emulated sound. (Female turkey cluck or click.)
4. Fried Is On the Rise
While fried turkey originated in the southern parts of the United States, it is becoming increasingly popular throughout the country thanks to its extraordinary flavor, quick cooking, and crisp, golden brown exterior. Not just for Thanksgiving tables, deep fried turkey is a tasty treat for all kind of gatherings — from block parties to backyard barbecues. Always wanted to sample this delicacy, but not up for taking up the task in your backyard? Gourmet food online offers a multitude of amazing alternatives, including everything from the Jive Turkey — AKA the fried turkey that launched a million fried turkeys — to less expected but equally scrumptious variations like the Honey Pecan Fried Turkey, and Peach Bourbon Fried Turkey.
5. It Was a Moon Meal
Have you ever wondered what Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin dined on on the moon? Turkey, with all of the trimmings. In fact, turkey has long been a preference of astronauts. It was also a dinner option for Commander Christopher Ferguson on the Atlantis — NASA’s last shuttle to make the journey to space.
6. The Truth on Tryptophan
if you’re like many Americans, you’ve likely succumbed to the post-feast nap at one point or another. As it turns out, turkey has unfairly been getting the blame all of these years. In truth, turkey contains no more sleep-inducing serotonin than most other foods. So if you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open after Thanksgiving dinner, it’s more likely due to the carb-heaviness of the meal, not the turkey.
7. It’s an Eye Health Enhancer
While carrots and spinach get most of the buzz on lists of foods that are beneficial to the eyes, turkeys also deserve some respect. They’re loaded up with B-vitamin niacin and zinc; the former help safeguard against cataracts while the latter is a preventative measure against macular degeneration. And those are hardly the only health benefits of this lean protein source which is high in potassium, low in fat (if you skip the skin), and has even been linked with regulating both cholesterol and insulin levels.
8. From Big Bird to Big Bird
Sesame Steet’s Big Bird may not be a turkey, but he’s bedecked in just under 4,000 turkey feathers which have been dyed his signature shade of yellow.
While there are many reasons to love turkeys, not everyone loves the huge amount of effort that goes into the pre-holiday cooking and prep. Rather than getting up at 4 a.m. to brine, baste, and whatever else you do to your usual bird, why not minimize the work while maximizing taste this year by ordering up a gourmet gobbler from mail order food company, FoodyDirect.