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Nov. 27, 2008

Thanksgiving is the American harvest festival holiday. In the fall of 1621, the religious separatist Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. 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.

271 million
The preliminary estimate of turkeys raised in the United States in 2008. That’s not statistically signficantly different from the number raised during 2007. The turkeys produced in 2007 together weighed 7.9 billion pounds and were valued at $3.7 billion. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service <>

The Price is Right

Retail cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2007.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009, Table 709 <>

Where to Feast

Number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2007, with 465 residents, followed by Turkey Creek, La. (363) and Turkey, N.C. (270). There also are nine townships around the country named Turkey, three in Kansas.
Source: Population estimates

Number of places and townships in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the red, acidic berry (e.g., Cranbury, N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2007, with 27,126 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next (6,810).
Source: Population estimates <>,

Number of places in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 71,057 residents in 2007; Plymouth, Mass., had 55,188. There is just one township in the United States named “Pilgrim.” Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 130. And then there is Mayflower, Ark., whose population was 2,134.
Source: Population estimates <>,

116 million
Number of households across the nation — all potential gathering places for people to celebrate the holiday.
Source: Families and Living Arrangements: 2007

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