Pursuing the trivia of Turkey day

  • Article by: KIM ODE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 23, 2011 - 2:40 PM

There are a lot of semi-fascinating details behind a Thanksgiving feast.

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Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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Minnesota being the nation's top producer of turkeys -- who said we never handed you a straight line? -- we decided to explore other Thanksgiving trivia, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, various producer associations and our own goofy curiosity.

Here's what we found:

• Minnesotans will raise 46.5 million turkeys this year. About 45 million turkeys will be eaten on Thanksgiving across the United States, which means that we alone could satisfy the nation's T-day needs. We stand ready.

• Ninety-five percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, which means that 16 million of us do not. Last year, 400,000 Tofurkys were sold, according to the company that invented the tofu "bird" in 1995. At five servings per Tofurky, that still leaves 14 million appetites up for grabs. We're thinking "cold pizza" because:

• Thanksgiving Eve is one of the year's biggest days for Domino's Pizza, with sales up 70 percent over a typical Wednesday. That's more than 1 million pizzas traveling over the freeway and through the 'hoods.

• The original recipe card for green bean casserole, created in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly in the home economics division of the Campbell Soup Co., is in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.

• A slave gardener known only as Antoine developed the propagation technique that transformed the pecan industry in Louisiana in 1876. Today, the United States leads the world in pecan production, producing 75 percent of the supply.

• More than half of the U.S. cranberry crop comes from Wisconsin. Should the mealtime banter (cough) bog down, amaze your dining partners with this question: How high must a cranberry bounce to be considered perfectly ripe?

• Cranberry sauce received its greatest airplay in 1967 (and ever since) as the phrase murmured by John Lennon in the closing moments of "Strawberry Fields Forever." Unfortunately, "Paul is dead" conspiracy theorists misunderstood this as, "I buried Paul."

• Why is Pepto-Bismol pink? According to the company website, "We're not exactly sure why this doctor [who developed the formula] chose pink, but we know that we're not going to mess with a good thing."

Oh, yeah: A cranberry must bounce 4 inches.

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185

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