Although it isn’t true that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be used on America’s seal, it is true that he felt the turkey would be a better choice than the bird that has become a symbol of America’s strength and freedom, the bald eagle.
As a member of the original committee tasked with working on the design for the Great Seal, Franklin’s suggestion was actually a Biblical scene, depicting Moses standing on shore and extending his hand over the sea, in what he felt was a strong depiction of the motto, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” Many years later, after seeing the final design for the Great Seal featuring the bald eagle, Franklin wrote to his daughter:
I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly… The turkey is, in comparison, a much more respectable bird, and a true original native of America.
While the turkey didn’t find its place on America’s seal, it has found a place of honour on tables as the focus of the Thanksgiving feast. In fact, Americans eat 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving, another 22 million for Christmas dinners, and 19 million at Easter.
Here are some other curious facts about the Thanksgiving bird:
- The idea that turkey causes sleepiness is a myth – the drowsiness is likely caused by consumption of too many carbohydrates.
- The heaviest turkey ever raised weighed 86 pounds.
- After the moon landing, the astronauts ate foil-packet meals that contained roasted turkey, complete with all the trimmings.
- The first English King to include turkey in his meals was Henry VIII, but turkey was not widely eaten as part of Christmas celebrations until the reign of Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, in the early 1900s.
- National Turkey Lovers’ Month is celebrated annually in June, with National Turkey Lovers’ Day occurring on the third Sunday in June, providing extra days to enjoy a variety of turkey-based dishes.
- The most popular ways to serve leftover turkey include sandwiches, stew, chili, soup and casseroles. But, turkey tacos and turkey wings, pulled turkey and even turkey ramen are other leftover turkey recipe options.
To our American customers, distributors, and colleagues, we extend warmest wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!