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Thanksgiving is huge and not just in Turkey, Texas

November 24, 2011 |  7:00 am

Thanksgiving is a numbers game for the Census Bureau
Thanksgiving turkeys, cranberries, pumpkins -- this holiday is all just numbers to the U.S. Census Bureau, which has released stats on the holiday that are quiz-worthy.

1) What is the quantity of turkey, in pounds, that the typical American consumed in 2009? 2) How many places in the U.S. have "Turkey" in their names?  3) How many are named Cranberry -- or some variation thereof? (Answers at bottom of post.)

Chew on this: The number of turkeys that were expected to be raised in the United States in 2011 was 248 million. That's a lot of gobblers. And the number is up 2% from 2010. Put those fat-bottomed birds on a colossal scale and they'd weigh about 7.11 billion pounds. Slap a price tag on them and it would come out to $4.37 billion.

Tote up the sweet potatoes -- no marshmallows, of course -- from the states that are the biggest producers of the special spud and it comes out to 2.4 billion pounds. Cranberries? We're rolling in them -- 750 million pounds in 2011. That won't please those in the "I hate cranberry sauce" contingent.

And, to think, we would likely produce and consume even larger quantities of holiday fare if we had stuck with the originally established three-day Thanksgiving extravaganza. You know, the one the Pilgrims meant for us to have.

The Pilgrims in the fall of 1621 pulled off three days of drinking and dining to mark one marvelous harvest. That's widely regarded as the first Thanksgiving.  So, who dropped the ball? It might have been President Lincoln. Honest Abe in 1863 proclaimed the last Thursday of November as the national day of thanksgiving.  So we're left with just the one day -- and millions upon billions of pounds of food.

Answers: 1) 13.3 pounds, much of it likely on Thanksgiving.

2) 4. Turkey Creek, La., (population 441, according to the bureau); Turkey, Texas (421); Turkey Creek, Ariz. (294); and Turkey, N.C. (292). There are also 11 townships around the country with Turkey in their names, including three in Kansas.

3) 9. Included are Cranbury, N.J., and Cranberry township in Pennsylvania.

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-- Amy Hubbard

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