14 Weird & Amazing Thanksgiving Facts

After you count your blessings this Thanksgiving, wow your kids with these 14 weird and amazing turkey and Thanksgiving related facts. To make it interactive, we’ve included some activities and questions to get your kiddos involved. Who knows, maybe they’ll even learn something!

From all of us at BabyQuip, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Now, dig in to these 14 festive Thanksgiving facts!

1. Pumpkin pie was not served at the first Thanksgiving meal.

Family discussing Thanksgiving Facts around dinner table

The Pilgrims didn’t have ovens for baking and they lacked the butter and flour necessary for pie crust. Culinary historians believe the first Thanksgiving meal consisted largely of seafood, like mussels, lobster, and clams. Diners almost certainly ate venison and likely some assortment of wild fowl—turkey, duck, goose and swan.

Ask kids to identify the local foods on your table.

2. An estimated 240 million turkeys will be raised in the U.S. this year.

Thanksgiving facts about turkeys

Of the 240 million turkeys raised this year, 45 million—or 18 percent—will be baked, grilled, and fried this Thanksgiving. If you’re thinking of frying your bird this year, use extra caution and make sure the fryer is outside and far away from anything flammable. Thanksgiving is the worst day of the year for home fires resulting in approximately 2000 homes catching fire each year. How’s that for a Thanksgiving fact? Yikes!

Ask kids to guess which state raises the most turkeys. Answer: Minnesota.

3. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621, but it wasn’t observed as a national holiday until 1863.

Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” wrote letters for 17 years campaigning to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Finally, President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday 240 years after the tradition started in Plymouth, Ma.

Ask kids what causes they feel passionately about.

4. The TV dinner was invented thanks to Thanksgiving.

In 1953, a Swanson employee accidentally ordered too much turkey—260 tons too much! The frozen turkeys were taking up space in 10 refrigerated train cars when a company salesman suggested preparing and packaging the turkey with sides in compartmentalized aluminum trays. Swanson sold 5,000 TV dinners in 1953. The following year, they sold 10 million!

Ask kids to guess how much the first TV dinner cost. Answer: 98 cents

5. 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten on Thanksgiving but it’s not the favorite.

Grandma and grandkids making pie based on Thanksgiving Facts

Interesting Thanksgiving fact #5—survey results suggest that while Americans like pumpkin pie, it’s not their favorite. Apple pie is the overwhelming favorite followed by chocolate and pecan pie making pumpkin pie rank in at #4.

Ask kids what their favorite pie is.

6. There weren’t any balloons at the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924.

macy's thanksgiving day parade balloon

The first parade featured Macy’s employees, floats, and animals from the Central Park Zoo. Large animal shaped balloons made their first appearance in the parade three years later in 1927.

Ask kids to guess the answer to this crazy Thanksgiving fact. How many handlers are required for each large balloon at the parade? Answer: 90

7. If Benjamin Franklin had gotten his way, the turkey would be our national bird.

Although some people believe this Thanksgiving fact to actually be a myth, according to Franklin, “The turkey is a much more respectable bird.” He also believed the turkey was a ‘bird of courage’. What do you think?

Ask kids what the national bird is. Answer: Bald eagle.

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8. There are four places in the US with turkey in their name!

While these are all super small towns, they do include ‘turkey’ in their names! Turkey, Texas (pop. 389), Turkey Creek, Louisiana (pop. 459), Turkey, North Carolina (pop. 295), and Turkey Creek, Arizona (pop. 294).

Ask kids to identify Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Arizona on a map or globe.

9. The largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 3,699 pounds and measured 20 feet in diameter.

Pumpkin Pie Thanksgiving Facts

The Guiness World Records holding pie was baked in 2010 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio. It included a whopping 1,212 pounds of pumpkin, 109 gallons of evaporated milk, 2,796 eggs, 525 pounds of sugar, 7 pounds of salt and 14.5 pounds of cinnamon.

Ask kids to guess how many slices this record pie served. Answer: 5,000

10. Cranberries aren’t just for eating.

Native Americans used cranberries to treat wounds and dye arrows. You can also find them in many holiday crafts including creative center pieces, wreaths and garlands.

Ask kids to name which US state grows the most cranberries. Answer: Wisconsin.

11. “Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song.

James Pierpoint composed “One Horse Open Sleigh” in 1857 for children celebrating Thanksgiving. It was such a hit that it was sung again at Christmas and the tradition stuck. The title was changed two years later to “Jingle Bells”.

Ask kids to sing “Jingle Bells”.

12. Only male turkeys gobble.

thanksgiving facts about baby turkeys

Here are some other interesting turkey facts: Male turkeys are called toms. Baby turkeys are called poults. Domesticated turkeys can’t fly while wild turkeys can fly for short distances and at speeds up to 55 miles per hour! Wild turkeys can also run up to 20 miles per hour!

True or false question for the kiddos: Wild turkeys are white. Answer: False. Wild turkeys are mostly brown.

13. Big Bird’s costume on Sesame Street is made of turkey feathers that have been dyed yellow.

This is our most favorite Thanksgiving fact! The American Plume & Fancy Feather company is responsible for making Big Bird’s suit which includes 4,000 turkey feathers. 

Ask kids to guess how tall Big Bird is? Answer: 8 feet 2 inches

14. Turkey tail is a delicacy in Somoa.

While unknown to most American diners, it’s common to find turkey tails for sale in Somoan groceries. The turkey tail is actually a gland that attaches the turkey’s feathers to its body. It is full of oil that the bird uses to preen itself. Colloquially, turkey tail is known as parson’s nose, pope’s nose, or sultan’s nose. 

Ask kids: Would you rather eat turkey tail or turkey liver?

Do you know of any other fun and amazing turkey or Thanksgiving facts you would like to share? We would love to know more! Tell us in the comments below!

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