Turkey Day Facts

Here is some trivia to use to amaze your friends and family this holiday, brought to you from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Image of a turkey

Which states produce most of the traditional Thanksgiving Day foods many of us will be eating? Wisconsin is number one for producing cranberries (if you’re a native I hope you knew that). Minnesota produces the most turkeys (no mean comments, please, we’re talking about fowl only!), North Carolina produces the most sweet potatoes, and Illinois grows the most pumpkins. Wisconsin also leads in “contracted production of snap (green) beans.” So you see, Wisconsin is a great place to be for this holiday!

There are three places in the U.S. named after the bird of honor, the largest being Turkey, Texas (2006 population: 489 residents).

Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November became a national holiday tradition in 1863, thanks to Abraham Lincoln.  National days of thanksgiving had been proclaimed by earlier presidents (not always in the fall), starting with George Washington in 1789, but Lincoln’s date became the practice of later presidents until Franklin Roosevelt tried to move it up a week in 1939 and 1940. This met with resistance and confusion as not all states moved their observances.  Congress acted to fix the national observance on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941. For more information on the history of Thanksgiving, including the text of George Washington’s 1789 proclamation,  see the Encyclopedia Smithsonian and “Today in History: November 25” (American Memory, The Library of Congress). [This paragraph amended 11/19/2009]

Want more? Go to Facts for Features: Thanksgiving Day Nov. 22, 2007. For truly enquiring minds, there are fact releases for other observances throughout the year (going back to 2000), such as other holidays, the SuperBowl, the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, and the Presidential Elections.

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About Barbara

I am a Reference & Instruction librarian, head of that department in Andersen Library, an associate professor, and a member of the General Education Review Committee and Faculty Senate. I've been working at UW-W since July 1, 1990.
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1 Response to Turkey Day Facts

  1. Cyril Kalbach says:

    Thanksgiving did not become an offical recurring national holiday until enacted by Congress in 1941. Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a holiday in 1863 but it was not really an official “national holiday” until 1941.

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