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)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.