There was no milk, cheese, bread, butter or pumpkin pie at the original Thanksgiving Day feast. However, a menu that included turkey started a tradition that continues in America today...
- Americans feast on 535 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving.
- According the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the United States at Thanksgiving.
- The average person consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day.
- Domesticated turkeys cannot fly, however wild turkeys can fly up to 55 miles per hour over short distances.
- Only male (‘tom’) turkeys gobble. Females make a clicking noise. The famous gobble is actually a seasonal mating call.
- The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in at 86 pounds – about the size of a German Shepherd!
- A turkey under 16 weeks of age is called a ‘fryer’. A five to seven month old turkey is called a ‘roaster’.
- The Turkey Trot, a ballroom dance in the 1900s, was named for the short, jerky steps of the turkey. It became popular mainly because it was denounced by the Vatican as “suggestive.”
- Turkeys can drown if they look up when it’s raining!
- A spooked turkey can run at speeds up to 20 miles per hour. They can also burst into flight approaching speeds between 50-55 mph in a matter of seconds.
- A wild turkey has excellent vision and hearing. Their field of vision is about 270 degrees… one of the main reasons they continue to elude some hunters.
- Turkeys spend the night in trees. They fly to their roosts around sunset.
- Turkeys fly to the ground at first light and feed until mid-morning. Feeding resumes in mid-afternoon.
- Gobbling starts before sunrise and can continue through most of the morning.
- Turkeys are able to adapt to a wide variety of habitats. However, most turkeys are found in hardwood forests with grassy areas.
- The ‘wishbone’ of the turkey is used in a good luck ritual on Thanksgiving Day.
- Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
- Approximately 91% of people eat turkey adding up to the sale of over 280 million turkeys for Thanksgiving celebrations.
One of the strangest things we hear about turkey is that it contains tryptophan, a natural sedative. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin, a calming agent in the brain that plays a key role in sleep. Maybe that is why many folks take a post-dinner nap on Turkey Day? Or could it be that this is just an urban legend?
While it is true that turkey contains tryptophan, it’s a myth that you get sleepy from eating it.
Here’s why tryptophan in turkey doesn’t make you sleepy:
- Tryptophan levels in turkey are minimal – almost unrecognizable.
- Tryptophan only works well on an empty stomach. When you have food in your system, tryptophan has to compete with all the other amino acids in your system, so an even less amount makes it to your brain.
The real reason we get sleepy is simple — We over eat — The average Thanksgiving meal contains 4500 calories, most of which are carbohydrates. This means our body is working overtime to digest everything causing that post-meal lethargy. So, enjoy your turkey, give thanks for all your blessings and take a nap...or a walk. Better yet...take a walk and a nap!