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Ben Franklin, In A Letter To His Daughter, Proposed The Turkey As The Official United States Bird.

National Turkey Lovers’ Day on the third Sunday in June each year demands we make room for turkey on the menu this summer.

  • The name for turkeys didn’t come from the Americas, but instead, the birds were thought to be a large sort of guineafowl that the Europeans were familiar with from Turkish merchants, and called them Turkey Fowl.
  • A second theory holds that when the North American birds (the same ones first domesticated by the Mayans) began to be exported to England in the 1500s, they came to the British Isles via Constantinople and became known as Turkey coqs because of their association with the Turks, and then eventually shortened to “turkeys.”
  • Turkeys were first domesticated by the Mayans
  • Turkeys (and chickens) are closer to their dinosaur ancestors than other birds.  A 2014 study from Kent University in England found that turkey and chicken chromosomes have undergone the fewest number of changes from their ancient ancestor, a feathered dinosaur, compared to other types of birds.
  • Ben Franklin, in a letter to his daughter, proposed the turkey as the official United States bird.
  • In 2012, the average American ate 16 pounds of turkey.
  • 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, 22 million on Christmas and 19 million turkeys on Easter.
  • In 2012, 253,500,000 turkeys were produced in the United States.
  • The turkey industry employs 20,000 to 25,000 persons in the United States.
  • In 2012, turkey was the # 4 protein choice for American consumers behind chicken, beef and pork
  • The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
  • The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
  • A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
  • Turkeys can see movement almost 100 yards away.
  • Turkeys lived almost ten million years ago.
  • Baby turkeys are called poults and are tan and brown.
  • Turkey eggs are tan with brown specks and are larger than chicken eggs.
  • It takes 75-80 pounds of feed to raise a 30 pound tom turkey.
  • Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clicking noise.
  • Gobbling turkeys can be heard a mile away on a quiet day.
  • The ballroom dance the “Turkey Trot” was named for the short, jerky steps that turkeys take.
  • Turkeys do not really have ears like ours, but they have very good hearing.
  • Turkeys can see in color.
  • Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.
  • Wild turkeys spend the night in trees. They prefer oak trees.
  • Wild turkeys can fly for short distances up to 55 mph and can run 20 mph.
  • Henry VIII was the first English King to enjoy turkey and Edward VII made turkey eating fashionable at Christmas.
  • 200 years ago in England, turkeys were walked to market in herds. They wore booties to protect their feet. Turkeys were also walked to market in the United States.
  • The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey are in a sandwich, stew, chili or soup, casseroles and as a burger.
  • Eating turkey does not cause you to feel sleepy after your Thanksgiving dinner. Carbohydrates in your Thanksgiving dinner are the likely cause of your sleepiness.
  • The costume that “Big Bird” wears on Sesame Street is rumored to be made of turkey feathers.
  • The bright red fleshy growth under a turkey’s throat is called a wattle.
  • There are a number of towns in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2005, with 492 residents; followed by Turkey Creek, Louisiana (357); and Turkey, North Carolina (269). There also are 9 townships around the country named “Turkey,” 3 in Kansas.

Sources:

National Day Calendar

Days of the Year

Modern Farmer

Illinois Extension

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