Each year, myths and facts about the first thanksgiving and other traditions are traded back and forth. And because we think they're fascinating, we've decided to bring you a few of the more unusual Thanksgiving Day stats (in addition to some of the annual fun facts because, let's face it, they're fun):
- Miles your turkey flew (by plane that is ... domesticated turkeys can't fly): This really depends, of course, on where you live. A number based on many assumptions that has been circulating since the early 2000's claims produce grown in the U.S. and shipped to Chicago (it was chosen as the end destination for a variety of reasons) will travel about 1,500 miles before it reaches your plate.
And in case you were wondering, 736 million pounds of turkey were eaten in the U.S. for Thanksgiving 2011. Minnesota leads turkey production, followed by North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Indiana.
Here's a map by Smithsonian Magazine that visualizes the location of the nation's turkey producers:
The largest circles represent larger producers of turkeys. (Image: Smithsonian Magazine)
- Stop blaming the turkey: While we're talking turkey, it's time you stop blaming tryptophan for why you're "too tired" to help clean up dinner.
Recent studies have found that the amount of carbohydrates consumed during the feast allow for the increase of tryptophan in the brain and cause drowsiness. So you can still blame the amino acid, but leave the turkey out of it.
Pictured: Not washing the dishes (Image: Shutterstock.com)
- Don't forget the cranberry sauce: It's not a large part of the meal, but there's always that one relative who will complain if the tart, gelatinous glop doesn't make its way onto the table.
Coming in at a whopping 450 million pounds in 2012, Wisconsin leads the U.S. in cranberry production. But if you think that's impressive, consider the following: Total annual U.S. cranberry production is about 789 million pounds (although not all of this is turned into the jellied relish we all know and love though).
- Holy helium: Did you know the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is the second largest consumer of helium in the country? In 2010, with 15 giant balloons, Live Science reported that it took 300,000 cubic feet of helium to keep them afloat -- that's around the same volume as 2.2 million gallons of milk.
Recently, some have criticized the excessive use of helium due to a dwindling supply, but others have pointed out that while supplies are lower, it doesn't mean we're running out. Tim Worstall for Forbes earlier this year stated that infrastructure that produces helium (it's a byproduct of natural gas extraction) has seen closure in recent years, which has resulted in a smaller supply and higher prices.
- Win, lose or tie: The Detroit Lions have one of the longest histories when it comes to Thanksgiving Day football. Playing their first game in 1934 and consistently every year ever since (except for a hiatus during World War II), the Lions head into today's game against the Houston Texans with a series record of 33-34-2 for the 69 games they've played on Thanksgiving.
The Dallas Cowboys also have been playing consistently since 1966. The Cowboys play the Washington Redskins today. The third game taking place Thursday is between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
- How long would you have to exercise to burn all your T-day calories: Total caloric intake on Thanksgiving Day -- snacking, main event, dessert and drinks -- is about 4,500. For a 180-pound man to burn off the roughly 2,000 extra calories consumed, he would need to walk for five hours.
If you know of any Thanksgiving fun facts, feel free to share them in the comments below.