Did You Know? Thanksgiving facts!

Amanda Harper


  • In 1863, President Lincoln finally proclaimed it a holiday. Before that time, every president had to determine whether it would be a holiday each year. (Thomas Jefferson was the only president who said “no thanks.”)
  • The first Thanksgiving Day football game happened back in 1876! That Princeton-Yale game ignited a trend of college rival teams playing on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Americans prepare a whopping 46 million turkeys for Thanksgiving… but only 88% of families have turkey on their table.
  • The first turkey trot took place in 1896, hosted by the YMCA of Buffalo Niagara. It had six participants, but only four finished.
  • Only male turkeys gobble.
  • Though the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924, the first oversize balloons didn’t debut until three years later. (Felix the Cat was the first character that went floating through Macy’s Herald Square.)
  • The first Thanksgiving meal probably looked very different. While no records exist of the exact menu, historians suggest that the three-day celebration probably included wild turkey, swan, geese, ducks, deer, mussels, eel, corn mush, cabbage, spinach, nuts, beans and peas.
  • Live turkeys have been presented to sitting presidents since Harry Truman’s day (as retaliation for him trying to declare “Poultryless Thursdays” shortly before Thanksgiving). Reagan was the first to refer to sending the turkeys to farms or petting zoos as a “pardon” and it became an official ceremony under George H. W. Bush.
  • Experts estimate that Americans consume an average of 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, we have leggings.
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey named as the national bird. That would definitely make Thanksgiving super awkward.