Amazing But True Thanksgiving Trivia

on November 19, 2013

Americans know Thanksgiving. Or at least we think we do. We know the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. We know that there was a feast of some sort. We also know that there will be a football game on the TV, Mom will have your favorite dish on the table, and there's a hectic day-after shopping extravaganza. Thanksgiving also has a rich history full of facts that you likely don't know. Scroll down to learn more about turkeys, traditions and more!

Photo: Daniel R. Blume

Thanksgiving Travelers Rule the Road

As if the roads didn’t tell you, people do a lot of traveling for Thanksgiving. How many people are really on the roads? According to American Automobile Association, 43.6 million people will trek more than 50 miles from their homes during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Courtesy of Florencio Briones

Airports to Avoid

If you’re looking to ease the stresses of air travel this Thanksgiving, you might skip the following airports: Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare and Orlando International are predicted to be three busiest American airports November 23-27, according to travel website Travelers flying out of these busy airports are heading to New York City, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Courtesy of Sondra Stewart

Macy's Christmas Day Parade?

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is a daylong event that draws crowds to New York City and viewers to TV screens across America. But did you know that the parade wasn’t planned as a Thanksgiving event? The original Macy’s Christmas Parade was scheduled a few weeks before Christmas to advertise the department store for Christmas shopping.

The Flying Ace Flies Again

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade can see lots of new faces depending on the popularity of new cartoons, movies and celebrities. But one character continues to be a fan favorite and see the parade year after year: The Flying Ace Snoopy. This balloon has had the most appearances during the parade with his sixth walk in 2006.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Thanksgiving is a Melting Pot

The Plimoth Plantation, the nonprofit living museum, states on its website that this holiday was not just the Pilgrims and Native Americans eating, but is a culmination of the English Harvest festivals and New England Puritan Thanksgiving. They celebrated both religion and seasonal bounty with foods like venison, seafood, and vegetables from the harvest.

Frederic Remington

The REAL First Thanksgiving

History often says the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving upon arriving at Plymouth Rock, but the first known feast wasn’t celebrated with Pilgrims. Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and the members of the Hasinai group of Caddo-speaking American Indians called "Tejas" first celebrated the harvest in 1541.

Courtesy of

Well, Pardon Me!

The traditional turkey pardon began unofficially with President John F. Kennedy as he permitted his turkey to “keep him going”. According to, the official ceremony started in 1989 with President Bush granting a presidential pardon. This tradition is still carried on today as shown in this photo with President Obama and his presidential turkey.

Joseph-Siffred Duplessis

Benjamin Franklin Talks Turkey

The turkey has had a special place in our hearts since the founding of America. Benjamin Franklin lobbied to make the turkey our nation’s mascot instead of the bald eagle. He felt that the eagle was of “bad moral character” and that the turkey was “a much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America.”

Turkey doesn't cause your food coma...

Turkeys may have won the heart of Benjamin Franklin, but they’ve been getting a bad rap ever since — often blamed as the reason people become sleepy after the Thanksgiving meal. This chemical in the turkey is blamed for the desire to nap. But the National Center for Biological Information says it’s not Tryptophan, a chemical present in turkey that’s known for inducing a desire to nap that’s to blame. Pure tryptophan must reach the brain for it to induce sleep not the traces present in turkey. It's the holiday hustle and bustle that gets you tuckered out.

iStock Photo

....But overeating does.

During the traditional Thanksgiving meal, the average American consumes 3,000 calories, much more than most people’s bodies are accustomed to digesting. As a result of this glut of food waiting to be digested, your body shifts energy to digestion, which leaves you tired. See, it’s gluttony not turkey to blame for your exhaustion!

Sneaky Salad Calories

The top calorie contributing food is Pumpkin Pie. But what comes in a close second? Salad. This supposed healthy side is so caloric because of what is added to the salad. Avoid the calories by limiting your portions.

iStock photo

This Shopping Holiday Comes in Second

Last year, Black Friday lost out to Super Saturday as the biggest shopping day of the year. But according to ShopperTrak, Black Friday is predicted to come back on top this year. Stores see large numbers due to huge price slashing and stores opening up earlier than ever before.

Black Friday

We can thank the Philadelphia Police Department for the phrase "Black Friday." According to ABC News, the department used the phrase to describe the crowds of shoppers that resulted in traffic jams, busy walkways, and constant shopping from open to close.

Ivy Rivalry

Watching a football game on TV is as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey to many sports fans. Many people believe that this football tradition started with the Detroit Lions and the Chicago bears, but it began with the Ivy Leagues. In 1876, shortly after football was invented, Yale and Harvard decided to start a Thanksgiving Day football tradition. Why does Detroit get the credit? They were the first to be nationally broadcast on radio.