How many of these tricky turkey tidbits did you know?
When Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin sat down to eat their first meal on the moon, their foil food packets contained roasted turkey and all of the trimmings.
While it’s possible the Pilgrims ate wild turkey during their feast, researchers don’t think they were a common food at the time. More likely venison was the main meat, and was accompanied by pheasant, goose and duck — and possibly even some pigeon and swan.
The wild turkey is native to northern Mexico and the eastern United States.
Turkey feathers were used to stabilize arrows and adorn Native American ceremonial dress, and the spurs on the legs of wild tom turkeys were used as projectiles on arrowheads.
Turkey fossils have been unearthed across the southern United States and Mexico, some of them dating from more than 5 million years ago.
Americans consume about 17.6 pounds of turkey per person every year, and the US produces nearly 6 billion pounds of turkey meat annually.
In 2012, more than 210 million turkeys were consumed in the United States. About 46 million of those turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas, and 19 million at Easter.
Domesticated turkeys cannot fly.
Wild turkeys can fly for short distances at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour, and can run 20 miles per hour.
Male turkeys (toms) gobble, but hens do not. They make a clicking noise instead.
A turkey typically has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
A baby turkey is called a poult, and is tan and brown.
Turkey eggs are tan with brown specks and are larger than chicken eggs.
The incubation period to hatch a turkey egg is 28 days.
On average, it takes 75-80 pounds of feed (mostly corn and soybean-based) to raise a 30-pound tom turkey.
In 2010, scientists announced that they had sequenced most of the genome for Meleagris gallopavo, the domesticated turkey. The map could help growers to more efficiently produce bigger, meatier turkeys.
The top 5 turkey producing states (in 2012): Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri & Virginia.
According to Guinness World Records, the world’s largest turkey farm belongs to Bernard Matthews plc, in Norfolk,England. They produce 1 million turkeys per year in a country that doesn’t even celebrate Thanksgiving.
The long, red, fleshy growth from the base of the beak that hangs down over the beak is called the snood.
A bright red appendage on a turkey’s neck is called the wattle.
A large group of wild turkeys is called a flock, while a bunch of the domesticated birds are called rafter or gang. (Yes, a gang of turkeys.)
Wild turkeys prefer to sleep in trees.
America’s wild turkeys almost went extinct in 1930, due to the loss of their natural habitats and being over-hunted. Thanks to conservation and recovery efforts, there are now about seven million wild turkeys in North and Central America.
The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds — which is about the size of a large dog.
It’s estimated that a turkey has about 3,500 feathers at maturity.
Frazee, Minnesota, is the “Home of the world’s largest turkey.” Not a living creature, it’s a roadside attraction that stands over 20 feet tall and is 17 feet wide. It weighs over 5,000 pounds and features more than 3,000 separate fiberglass feathers.
Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the country’s official bird. Unhappy about the choice of the bald eagle, Franklin wrote, “For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America.”