Friday, April 13, 2007
Thanksgiving Fun Facts and Statistics
Thanksgiving Day
Nov. 23, 2006

What many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving took place in December 1621 as the religious separatist Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. It eventually became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.

265 million
The preliminary estimate of turkeys raised in the United States in 2006. That’s up 3 percent from 2005. The turkeys produced in 2005 together weighed 7.2 billion pounds and were valued at $3.2 billion. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service at <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>)

Weighing in With a Menu of Culinary Delights
45 million

The preliminary estimate of turkeys Minnesota expects to raise in 2006. The Gopher State is tops in turkey production. It is followed by North Carolina (37 million), Arkansas (30 million), Virginia (22.5 million), Missouri (21.5 million) and California (16 million). These six states together will probably account for about 65 percent of U.S. turkeys produced in 2006. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service at <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>)

664 million pounds
The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2006, up 6 percent from 2005. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 375 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (175 million). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 16 million to 49 million pounds. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service at <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>)

1.6 billion pounds
The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced in the United States in 2005. North Carolina (595 million pounds) produced more sweet potatoes than any other state. It was followed by California (351 million pounds). Mississippi and Louisiana also produced large amounts: at least 200 million pounds each. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service at <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>)

1.1 billion pounds
Total production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2005. Illinois led the country by producing 497 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania also provided lots of pumpkins: each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all the pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $106 million. <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>

If you prefer cherry pie, you will be pleased to learn that the nation’s forecasted tart cherry production for 2006 totals 256 million pounds. Of this total, the overwhelming majority (185 million) will be produced in Michigan. <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>)

1.8 billion bushels
The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls and pie crust — produced in the United States in 2006. Kansas and North Dakota — combined — accounted for 30 percent of the nation’s wheat production. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service at <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>)

768,000 tons
The 2006 contracted production of snap (green) beans for processing. Of this total, Wisconsin led all states (305,000 tons). Many Americans consider green bean casserole a traditional Thanksgiving dish. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service at <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>)

3 million tons
The 2006 contracted production of sweet corn for processing. Minnesota, with 924,000 tons, led the nation. (Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service at <http://www.nass.usda.gov/>)

$5.7 million
The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys during the first half of 2006 — 96 percent from Canada. Our northern neighbor accounted for all of the cranberries the United States imported ($1.3 million). When it comes to sweet potatoes, however, the Dominican Republic was the source of 86 percent ($2.5 million) of total imports ($3 million). The United States ran a $900,000 trade deficit in live turkeys over the period, but surpluses of $4.9 million in cranberries and $16.5 million in sweet potatoes. <http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/>

13.4 pounds
The quantity of turkey consumed by the typical American in 2004 with a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time. Per capita sweet potato consumption was 4.7 pounds. (Source: Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007.)

The Turkey Industry
$3.6 billion
The value of turkeys shipped in 2002. Arkansas led the way in turkey shipments, with $581.5 million, followed by Virginia ($544.2 million) and North Carolina ($453.0 million). Businesses that primarily processed turkeys operated out of 35 establishments, employing about 17,000 people. <http://www.census.gov/prod/ec02/ec0231i311615.pdf>

The Price is Right
$1.07

Cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2005. (Source: Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007.)

Where to Feast
3

Number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2005, with 492 residents; followed by Turkey Creek, La. (357); and Turkey, N.C. (269). There also are nine townships around the country named “Turkey,” three in Kansas. <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/007001.html> and <http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet>

8
Number of places and townships in the United States that are named “Cranberry” or some spelling variation of the name we call the red, acidic berry (e.g., Cranbury, N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. <http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet>

28
Number of places in the United States named Plymouth, as in “Plymouth Rock,” legendary location of the first Thanksgiving. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 69,701 residents in 2005; Plymouth, Mass., had 54,923. Speaking of Plymouth Rock, there is just one township in the United States named “Pilgrim.” Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 135. <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/007001.html> and <http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet>

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