10 Weird Thanksgiving Facts

It was supposed to be a day for fasting...
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2012 4:48 PM CST
10 Weird Thanksgiving Facts
The first-ever TV dinner was the result of too much Thanksgiving food.   (Shutterstock)

Thanksgiving feasts and TV dinners may seem like polar opposites, but in fact, the holiday gave birth to the prepackaged meals. Swanson bought way too much turkey in 1953—an extra 260 tons of it—so a salesman suggested packing the leftovers into 5,000 aluminum trays, accompanied by sweet potatoes, peas, and the like—and thus, the first TV dinner was born. Time offers nine other Turkey Day fun facts to ponder:

  • Thanksgiving was originally supposed to be quite the opposite of what it's become. Plymouth Rock pilgrims saw it as a time of—gasp!—fasting. But the Native Americans who celebrated with them brought feasting to the table.

  • In other near-misses, Thomas Jefferson thought Thanksgiving was "the most ridiculous idea" he'd ever heard. But George Washington was a big fan, and Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird.
  • Franklin Roosevelt attempted to shift the date a week earlier in 1939 to boost Depression-era retail sales. Americans didn't like the idea, and Congress settled on the official date in 1941.
  • Turducken—turkey stuffed with duck with a chicken inside—is getting really, really popular. A Louisiana store ships more than 5,000 the week before the holiday, it says.
  • Thanksgiving Day football is by no means modern: It started in 1876 with the American Intercollegiate Football Association's championship game.
Click through for the full list. (More Thanksgiving stories.)

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