PICKENS COUNTY — So you think you know all there is to know about Thanksgiving? Here are a few bits of trivia you might have missed, just in time to ponder them over that sweet potato pie.
Since 1934, the Detroit Lions have played football on Thanksgiving. Why? Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Lions — then known as the Spartans — and moved the team from Ohio to Detroit in 1934. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw to a game was 15,000 people.
Richards was desperate to find a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its new football team, so he came up with the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since his radio station was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he was able to convince NBC to broadcast the Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.
The Lions played the undefeated Chicago Bears — eventual winners of the Western Division — and sold out their 26,000-seat stadium and since then, the Lions have played on Thanksgiving.
The first Swanson frozen TV dinner — selling for 98 cents — was produced in the United States and consisted of a Thanksgiving meal of turkey, cornbread stuffing, frozen peas and sweet potatoes packaged in a tray like those used for airline meals.
Retired Swanson executive Gerry Thomas said he came up with the idea after the company found itself with a huge surplus of frozen turkeys because of poor Thanksgiving sales.
What’s in a name?
Three towns in the United States are named Turkey — Turkey, Texas, Turkey Creek, La., and Turkey, N.C. Each has fewer than 500 residents.
The world’s largest man-made turkey is in Frazee, Minn. Weighing in at more than 5,000 pounds and standing over 20 feet tall, Big Tom is the largest man-made turkey in the world. The turkey has roughly 1,000 pounds of steel reinforcing its body, and there are an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 fiberglass feathers on the turkey — a task which took D.W.O. Fiberglass Company more than 2,000 hours to complete.
The night before Thanksgiving is the single biggest day for bar sales in the United States. Not only do towns see an increase in population — mostly college students heading home to see their families for the school break — but friends and family spending time to catch up.
It also comes without the high price tag of nights like New Year’s Eve where more places charge higher cover fees to take part in the revelry. Finally, it’s one of the few chances each year that people get to reunite with childhood friends, most of whom have moved all over the country after high school.
The original Macy’s Day Parade used live animals from the Central Park Zoo. 1924 marked the first year of the Macy’s Day Parade, which was formerly known as the Thanksgiving parade, held in Newark, N.J., at Bamberger’s, a local department store. For the first three years of the parade in New York, instead of using floats, Macy’s used live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo in the spectacle.
About 250 million turkeys are raised annually in the United States. To put that in perspective, the population of Indonesia is just under 250 million people. Major turkey producers tell consumers to buy 1.5 pounds of turkey per person on Thanksgiving so there’s enough to eat with dinner and then enough for leftovers.
Pass the turkey
The average person consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day, enough to gain 1.3 pounds. The average Turkey Day reveler consumes up to 4,500 calories throughout the day. It takes eating 3,500 calories to equal one pound of fat. A 160-pound person would have to run at a steady pace for six hours, swim for seven and a half hours or walk 45 miles to burn off a 4,500-calorie Thanksgiving day food-fest.
Jingle Bells was composed by James Pierpont in 1857 for his Sunday school class and their Thanksgiving performance at church. Pierpont wrote the song with simplicity in mind so his students would have no trouble memorizing the tune. The song was so well-received at the Thanksgiving concert that the children sang it again at Christmas, which is how it became associated with that holiday rather than Thanksgiving.
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.