Backstory: A day you can count on

Thanksgiving by the numbers.

256 million turkeys will be raised in the US in 2005. That estimate is down 3 percent from 2004, when total sales were valued at $3.1 billion. - USDA

44.5 million will come from farms in Minnesota, the top turkey-producing state. Next biggest producers are North Carolina (36 million), Arkansas (29 million), and Virginia (21 million). - USDA

649 million lbs. of cranberries will be harvested in the US in 2005, up 5 percent from last year. Top producing states: Wisconsin (367 million pounds) and Massachusetts (170 million pounds). - USDA

17.1 lbs. of turkey will be consumed per person in the US in 2005. - USDA

100,000 calls will be fielded by food experts at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line in November. This year, a staff of 55 will dispense advice to chefs and non-chefs alike. No. 1 asked question: How do you thaw a turkey? No. 5 asked question: How do you microwave a turkey? A less frequent query, but one they've received: I carved my turkey with a chain saw - will the oil from the chain ruin the meat?

3 places in the US are named after Thanksgiving's main course. Turkey, Texas, is the most populous (496 residents), followed by Turkey Creek, La., (357 in 2004), and Turkey, N.C. (267). - US Census

1.6 billion lbs. of sweet potatoes were grown in the US in 2004. The top yield came from North Carolina (688 million pounds) followed by California (339 million pounds). - USDA

$36.78 is the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and all the trimmings for 10 people. That's up $1.10 from last year. - American Farm Bureau Federation

49% of Americans say turkey is their favorite food at Thanksgiving. Stuffing is the next top choice at 14 percent. Ham, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie are each favored by 5 percent of Americans. - Gallup Poll

4.4 million households reported that hunger was a problem at some point in 2004. That represents 3.9 percent of American households - up from 3.5 percent in 2003. - Economic Research Service

1,100 people will eat their Thanksgiving day dinner at Longfellow's Wayside Inn, the tavern in Sudbury, Mass., immortalized by the hirsute poet in "Tales of a Wayside Inn." It has been in continuous operation for nearly 300 years. - Guy LeBlanc, museum services manager

47% more calls come in to Roto-Rooter, the nation's largest supplier of plumbing services, on the day after Thanksgiving than a normal Friday. It's typically the busiest day of the year for plumbers. Top sources of clogged drains: potato peels, poultry skins, and turkey grease, which congeals in pipes like candle wax. To avoid stopping-up sinks, some people flush their turkey detritus down the toilet, causing problems of another kind, according to Paul Abrams, national spokesman for Roto-Rooter Inc. Plumbers who show up on Thanksgiving Day are often rewarded with drumsticks and pumpkin pie.

998 million lbs. of pumpkins were harvested in 2004. Illinois led the nation with a 457 million pound yield. - USDA

37.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving holiday - a slight increase over last year. - American Automobile Association

300,000 geese are sold annually in the US, the vast majority for food at the holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chinese New Year. - Jim Schiltz, Schiltz Goose Farms

626,000 lbs . of food will be distributed by the Greater Boston Food Bank each week in November. - Susan Schrader, Greater Boston Food Bank

8 lbs. is the weight of a typical turkey eaten at Thanksgiving in early 19th-century America. To cook it, the turkey was suspended on string over a hearth. - Susie Bonta, Sturbridge Village, Mass.

20.9 million people watched the Detroit Lions play the Indianapolis Colts in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game last year. But the gridiron faces growing competition from the kennel club: The National Dog Show captured 8.5 million viewers - a number that has been rising sharply. - Nielsen Media Research

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