1. Thanksgiving Hasn't Always Been a National Holiday--Nursery rhymes and Thanksgiving have something in common. Sarah Josepha Hale was a magazine editor who also happened to write "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She lobbied for making Thanksgiving a national holiday. Seventeen years and five presidents later, Abraham Lincoln finally established Thanksgiving as a holiday in 1863.
2. Thanksgiving Hasn't Always Been on the Same Date—In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared that Thanksgiving fall on the fourth Thursday of November. But in order to stimulate the economy and extend the holiday shopping season during tough times, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date in 1939 to the third Thursday. It stayed that way for two years until Roosevelt moved it back to the fourth Thursday, where it stands today.
3. We Consume an Average of 3,000 Calories at Thanksgiving--From the butter volcano in the mashed potatoes to the sweet potato casserole and cornbread stuffing in gravy, each American will consume anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 calories at the average Thanksgiving meal. But the biggest calorie bomb on your Thanksgiving table is the pecan pie! It packs 503 calories a slice, compared to 316 calories for pumpkin pie and 411 calories for apple pie.
4. The Original Thanksgiving Lacked A Few of Today's Must-Haves--What wasn't part of the original Thanksgiving? A fork! The Pilgrims ate with spoons, knives and their hands. Forks didn't become regulars at American tables until years later. Also missing from the settlers' table were mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
5. You'd Have to Run a Marathon (Plus!) to Burn Off Your Thanksgiving Calories--If you want to exercise to "erase" the calories from turkey, gravy and everything else you ate at Thanksgiving dinner, a 150-pound person would have to run an average of 29 miles to burn off 2,800 calories.
6. We Eat (Way More Than) A Ton of Turkey--Americans consume 736 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving Day alone. That's 368,000 tons or the weight equivalent of almost 20 Queen Mary 2 cruise ships. Or about the weight of the Empire State Building.
7. Most of Our Turkeys Come From Minnesota—Minnesota gives us around 46 million birds. North Carolina comes in second at 32 million and then Arkansas at 30.5 million.
8. Turkey Does NOT Make You Tired--Eating turkey does not make you tired. Turkey has tryptophan, but tryptophan-containing foods don't produce the hypnotic effects pure tryptophan does. So turkey doesn't make you sleepy but booze, carbohydrates and in-laws do.
9. It's Okay to Throw Food (Well, Cranberries At Least)--It's not always a good idea to throw your food, but it might be okay for cranberries. How can you tell if cranberries are ripe? Throw them on the ground and see if they bounce. If they're ripe and ready to eat, the air pockets inside let them bounce. If a cranberry is old, it won't.
10. If You Cook Thanksgiving Dinner, You'll Burn A Quarter of the Calories You Eat--If you've ever pulled off a Thanksgiving dinner yourself, then you know it's a workout. If you make the whole dinner yourself (that's everything from turkey to gravy, sides and dessert, with about 4½ hours in the kitchen chopping, stuffing and rubbing), you'll burn about 700 calories!