Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday.
Sometimes Christmas gets overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, the consumerism, the pressure of too many events and too little time. But Thanksgiving has always had an air of sweet, quiet, nostalgic innocence. Just family and friends. Reflection and gratitude. A bountiful and carefully prepared meal.
Thanksgiving reminds me of car trips filled with laughter, piles of colorful leaves or maybe even a snowy day (both delightful treats when you grow up among palm trees), rarely seen but sorely missed relatives, roaring fires, and delicious, familiar smells.
As a former chef, I relate so many memories to food. A smell or a taste can take me back perfectly to an exact time and place. Thanksgiving meals especially hold a cornucopia of remembrances (Note the appropriate use of the 2nd grade spelling word. Mrs. Sullivan would be so proud!). The first time I was allowed to clean and stuff the turkey. My grandmother’s hands guiding me through crimping the edges of her buttery, flaky pie crust. My mother’s yearly insistence on the appearance of pickled watermelon rind on the relish tray. Really?? Pickled watermelon rind??
As a foodie, my Thanksgiving blog was obviously going to revolve around the meal one way or the other. I had to decide whether to share a recipe for the ultimate sweet potato cake with brown sugar icing or give you a list of fun Thanksgiving food facts. I chose the facts.
But if you want the recipe, let me know!
- The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation has taken place at the White House every year since 1947. A few days before Thanksgiving, the President of the United States is presented with a live turkey. The president does not send the live turkey off to slaughter, but instead "pardons" the bird and spares it from ending up roasted and on a platter. After the pardon, the turkey then gets sent to a farm to live out its days in peace and security.
- Speaking of turkeys, over 46 million turkeys (about 736 million pounds worth) are cooked each year on Thanksgiving Day in the US. Cooked. Can’t guarantee the number of those that are actually consumed. Guess that depends on how many are overcooked to the point of near-incineration. Yes, we had one of those once.
- Kitchen advice - to make sure you have enough turkey for each guest and still have some leftovers for the all-important day-after turkey sandwiches, allow about 1 pound of uncooked turkey per guest.
- Did you know the first TV dinner was the result of a Thanksgiving turkey miscalculation? Swanson was left with an extra 260 tons of turkey after Thanksgiving in 1953. Following a suggestion to package and freeze the turkey along with sweet potatoes and other side dishes on an aluminum tray, the first TV dinner was born.
- Wonder why you are so tired after Thanksgiving dinner? No, it’s not the tryptophan in the turkey as we’ve been told for years. It’s actually the consumption of a meal which averages 2-3 times more calories than most adults generally consume in an entire day. Around 4,000. Thus, the food coma.
- Oh, and the worst calorie culprit? The pecan pie. At 550 calories. Per average-sized slice. Before the whipped cream. And don’t try to justify it by claiming ‘But pecans have healthy fats!’ If you’re going to top your Thanksgiving meal with another 500-1000 calories of dessert, be honest about it and dive in with gusto! You only do it once. A year. Every year.
- If you’re looking to watch your dessert calories, pumpkin pie is the lowest calorie and healthiest of the traditional pies. To that end, more than 50 million pumpkin pies are served each year on Thanksgiving. Over a million of those are purchased at Costco! Although probably not for health reasons.
- And finally, while I don’t believe it for a second and would love to know where these people shop, Time Magazine reported in 2015 that the cost of preparing Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people is now just over $50. Clearly I’m overdoing things. I’m pretty sure I spend that much on the turkey alone.
However you choose to spend your holiday, whatever meal graces your table, and whatever it is you’re thankful for this year, I hope it’s a day filled with moments that are fondly remembered for years to come.
Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us here at Actionable Research.