With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we thought we would make certain you got your fill of turkey - so to speak. So here's some "Turkey Stuff" you might find entertaining and, who knows, maybe informative.
It's our special salute to the holiday, and a time to relax and 'let go' a little in the spirit of a true festival. Here's hoping all your Thanksgivings will be bright and full of stuff(ing)...
We start with the now famous:
THE PRESIDENTIAL PARDON
Each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board have given a turkey to the President of the United States at a White House ceremony. Since then, presidents have been more likely to eat the turkey rather than give it a reprieve. A notable exception occurred in 1963, when President Kennedy, referring to the turkey given to him, said, "Let's just keep him." It wasn't until the first Thanksgiving of President George H.W. Bush, in 1989, that a turkey was officially pardoned for the first time.
Confusing the Practice
Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama continued the pardons begun under the first Bush. Some confusion about the true origin of this practice has crept into recent presidential speeches though. One story claims that Harry Truman pardoned the turkey given to him in 1947, but the Truman Library has been unable to find any evidence of this. Another story claims the tradition dates back to Abraham Lincoln pardoning his son Tad's pet turkey.
From Frying Pan Park to Disneyland
What's certain is that since 1989 a turkey — and its alternate — have been pardoned each year. An alternate is chosen just in case the first bird is unable to perform its duties. For fifteen years through 2004, the turkeys were given to Kidwell Farm, a petting zoo at Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia. The turkeys would receive a last minute pardon before arriving, and were then led to their new home at the Turkey Barn after enduring a turkey "roast" full of poultry humor and history.
In 2005 and 2006, however, the turkeys were flown to Disneyland in California where they served as honorary grand marshals for Disneyland's Thanksgiving Day parade. After that, they spent the rest of their lives at a Disneyland ranch. A spot in sunny Disneyland seems immensely preferable to a place called Frying Pan Park if you happen to be a turkey who has just escaped from becoming the main course of someone's Thanksgiving feast.
The People's Choice
On Tuesday, November 20, 2007, President Bush gave two turkeys named May and Flower a last-minute reprieve. The two hail from Dubois, Indiana, and were raised under the direction of National Turkey Federation Chairman Ted Seger. For the fifth time, the American public was allowed to vote for the turkeys' names on the White House web site. About 28,000 votes were cast online in 2007. 2006's turkeys were named Flyer and Fryer; 2005's were Marshmallow and Yam; 2004's were Biscuit and Gravy; and 2003's were Stars and Stripes.
Without turkeys, Big Bird would be naked. Big Bird, of Sesame Street fame, is actually dressed in turkey feathers. Although he is not a turkey, his costume is made of nearly 4,000 white turkey feathers, which have been dyed bright yellow.
In England, during the 1700's, turkeys were walked to market in large herds. Turkey farmers often covered the birds' feet with little booties to protect them on the long journey to the London market. Head ‘em up, move ‘em out.
The National Bird?
Ben Franklin thought the North American wild turkey should be the national bird. Of course, the turkey of his day was nothing like the domesticated descendants we know today. The wild turkey of Ben Franklin's day was a brightly plumed, cunning bird of flight. Unlike eagles, turkeys live in flocks. Imagine seeing a flock of birds as large as turkeys flying across the sky. It must have been a wondrous sight. Wild turkeys have longer necks and legs as well as smaller breasts than turkeys bred for the table. The true American turkey was "wild and wary to the point of genius," said author G. T. Klein.
What's a Wattle?
The head and neck of turkeys have no feathers; rather it is covered with red, fleshy skin. A soft floppy growth on the front of the head, which dangles downward over the beak, is called the snood or dewbill. The turkey also has a pouch-like area at the front of his throat which is called a wattle. The head, neck, snood and wattle are all reddish colored until the male turkey begins to do his "strut" or mating dance at which time the entire area turns brilliantly bright red.
White Meat and Dark Meat?
Did you ever wonder why the breast and wings of chickens and turkeys have white meat while the legs and thighs are dark? The explanation is a physiological one involving the function of muscles, which gives some insight into humans as well as animals. The dark coloration is not due to the amount of blood in muscles but rather to a specific muscle type and it's ability to store oxygen.
Only the adult male turkey makes the gobbler, gobble sound. The adult male is called the "tom" turkey. The female or hen turkey makes a gentle clucking or clicking sound. The hen never gobbles.
A man in Phoenix calls his son in New York the day before Thanksgiving and says,"I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough.
"Pop, what are you talking about?" the son screams. We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the father says. "We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her."
Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like heck they're getting divorced," she shouts, "I'll take care of this,"
She calls Phoenix immediately, and screams at her father, "You are NOT getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" and hangs up.
The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Okay," he says, "they're coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way."
Baby Bruno was sitting in his grandmother's kitchen, watching her prepare the Thanksgiving meal.
"What are you doing?" Bruno asked.
"Oh, I'm just stuffing the turkey," his grandmother replied.
"That's cool!" Bruno said.
"Are you going to hang it next to the deer?"
A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store, but couldn't find one big enough for her family. She asked the stock boy, "Do these turkeys get any bigger?"
The stock boy answered, "No ma'am, they're dead."
Why do Pilgrims have trouble keeping their pants up?
'Cause they wear their belts on their hats!
What is the difference between a chicken and a turkey?
Chickens celebrate Thanksgiving!!
What is the Turkey's favorite black tie celebration?
The Butter Ball
How does a Turkey drink her wine?
In a gobble-let