Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Turkey

Bring some turkey trivia to the Thanksgiving table

Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Turkey (Slideshow)


Turkey at Thanksgiving is one of the most iconic holiday meals in America. But how much do you know actually about this large fowl?

Turkey Feathers, Not Meat


Wild turkeys, which can have a wing span of almost five feet, were first domesticated in Mexico as early as 800 B.C., but were bred for their feathers, not their meat. They didn't become a significant food source for Native Americans until around 1100 A.D.

When Turkeys Fly


Wild turkeys can fly (that’s how they get into trees to sleep at night), but modern-day domesticated ones bred for consumption are too top-heavy to get off the ground.

First Thanksgiving Debate


Although it’s still up for debate, wild turkey, along with goose, duck, crane, and swan, among other fowl, was probably served at the first Thanksgiving

Ben Franklin’s Favorite Fowl


The turkey was a favorite of Ben Franklin’s; though many think that he proposed it as the national bird of the U.S. instead of the bald eagle, he only suggested that it was a “much more respectable bird” than the eagle.

Presidential Pardon


Starting in 1947 with President Harry Truman, each president has given a “presidential pardon” to a turkey brought to the White House during the holiday season. After a public vote via social media in 2013, the most recent pardon recipient, Popcorn, was saved from his doom and now lives at a farm in rural Virginia.

Fittest Fowl


Turkey contains fewer calories that its smaller fowl counterpart, chicken, but remains significantly less popular. For example, a 3-ounce serving of roasted chicken wing has about 240 calories compared to 190 calories in a 3-ounce serving of roasted turkey wing.

Store-Bought Versus Fresh Turkey


Store-bought turkeys are injected with a salt solution for flavor, and contrary to popular belief can be cooked from frozen if needed. Fresh turkeys take about 20 minutes less to cook than a thawed turkey. And remember, thawing a turkey in the refrigerator requires a lot of time; allow for 24 hours to thaw for every 4 pounds of turkey.

Roasting Alternatives


There are plenty of alternatives to a standard roasted turkey. For a rich twist, try wrapping it in bacon. You can also grill, smoke, deep-fry, and even microwave whole turkeys. If all else fails, just cook it in the dishwasher.