6 Unusual Thanksgiving Facts You May Not Have Known About

  • Here’s something to distract you from your ranting relatives.

It’s Thanksgiving again, which means it’s time to pig out on turkey, pumpkin pie, and other classics before settling into a comfortable food coma. Or to argue with annoying relatives, depending on your circumstances.

There are a lot of myths and legends that surround this holiday. Some of them are true, while others that we all take as facts are actually completely made up.

Here is a collection of strange and unusual Thanksgiving trivia for you to read while you digest your turkey.

1) Franksgiving

Thanksgiving is always on the last Thursday of November. Except between 1939 and 1941 when it wasn’t.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date of Thanksgiving back by one week to the third Thursday of the month. The President did so at the request of retailers, who believed the move would boost retail sales as the U.S. was just coming out of the Great Depression.

Only, that didn’t happen. But the stunt did piss off most Americans, who started calling the holiday “Franksgiving” and comparing Roosevelt to Hitler, who was at the time busy messing up Europe with WWII.

Thanksgiving moved back to its rightful date in 1942 and has stayed there since.

2) Thanksgiving Created TV Dinners

We have Thanksgiving to thank for the current prevalence of frozen meals. While some companies dabbled with them earlier, the concept of TV dinners kicked off in 1953 when Swanson introduced their turkey dinner.

Part of the reason why the company developed the concept was the surplus of leftover frozen turkeys that didn’t sell during Thanksgiving. After all, it would’ve been completely ridiculous to waste 260 tons of perfectly good meat.

So, Swanson sliced up the meat and packaged it with stuffing, peas, and sweet potatoes. And there you have it — the modern TV dinner was born.

3) Thanksgiving Should Last for Three Days

Do you believe in a good old traditional Thanksgiving? Well, you better start preparing a lot more food, then.

The original Thanksgiving feast was served in 1621 to honor the Pilgrims’ first fall harvest in America and the Native American tribes who had helped them. But unlike today, the celebration lasted for three days.

As if preparing just one dinner wasn’t stressful enough. Speaking of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner…

4) Replace That Turkey with a Swan or a Seal

It’s a matter of historical record that for the 1621 feast, the Pilgrims went hunting for birds. And while wild turkeys were definitely prevalent in the area, there’s no evidence that any of them were served at the dinner.

Instead, we know that the Pilgrims prepared swans, lobsters, mussels, and even seals for the first Thanksgiving. In addition, the Wampanoag tribe attending the celebration brought five deer with them.

You wouldn’t have seen pumpkin pies at the first Thanksgiving, either. The Pilgrims hadn’t really built functional ovens at that point yet, so they would’ve had no way to bake them.

So, if you happen to not be a fan of turkey, feel free to replace it with venison or a couple of lobsters. After all, that’s more authentic.

5) Thanksgiving Clogs America’s Sewers

After you’d had your dinner, you have to do the dishes. But all those leftovers and turkey fat that go into the garbage disposal don’t do your drains any favors.

In fact, the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers in the U.S. And yes, it’s all because of cooking fat and leftover washed down the drain.

If you want to avoid a post-Thanksgiving clog, only wash your dishes after you’ve scraped all leftover into the trash, including rice and potato peels. Unless you really want to support the American plumbing industry, we suppose.

6) Calvin Coolidge Received a Raccoon for Thanksgiving

In 1926, a certain probably well-meaning citizen from Mississippi sent a raccoon to President Calvin Coolidge. The sender intended for the First Couple to serve the animal as Thanksgiving dinner instead of a turkey.

Coolidge, however, thought the raccoon was much too cute to eat. Instead, he adopted the animal and served the more traditional turkey instead.

The Raccoon, who received the name Rebecca, ended up living as a White House pet until 1927. At that point, the Coolidges realized raccoons don’t make great house pets and sent Rebecca to live out the rest of her days at a zoo.