The Fowl Beginnings of Turkey Day

Written by: Calah Ford

Categories: Agriculture, IPE, Poultry
Nov 22
The Fowl Beginnings of Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is less than a week away! Though Thanksgiving was officially declared a national holiday on October 3, 1863, its roots date back much further to 1621 and what most Americans view as "The First Thanksgiving." It was celebrated with a three day feast by the Wampanoag tribe and the Pilgrims. While the typical Thanksgiving meal today has one requirement, turkey, with a variety of optional side dishes like mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, the first Thanksgiving was much more modest, including few (if any) of the modern day staples. Most notably, it is questionable what presence turkey had at this first gathering. While there is record of fowl being on the menu, the specific breed is unclear. Since wild turkeys were prevalent, it’s likely they were offered, but amongst their cousins like ducks, geese, and swans. Other protein choices included deer and seafood, specifically mussels. 

Things have changed since that first celebration, though, and turkeys are now no doubt the centerpiece of all things Thanksgiving. In fact, in 1784 Ben Franklin wrote his daughter to say the turkey should be the national bird, not the bald eagle. From humble beginnings to showy displays, this bird has earned its place in Americans’ hearts… and stomachs!

Turkey Facts:

  • 88% of Americans eat turkey during Thanksgiving.
  • Turkey is high in the antioxidant selenium, boosting thyroid and immune systems and reducing the risk of cancer.
  • On average, a turkey will consist of 70% white meat and 30% dark meat.
  • Considering the high fat and carbohydrate content of most sides served at Thanksgiving, turkey’s low fat content ensures you’re eating at least one nutritious option!
  • The 2008 United States National Turkey was raised on Alltech solutions.

Turkey farmers are to thank for producing this delicious and healthy protein option that makes Thanksgiving what it is today. Alltech is proud to partner with producers across the world, providing solutions to make farming more profitable and sustainable. Learn more about Alltech’s work in poultry at or at our booth during IPPE 2014.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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