17 Gobbleygook Factslaps for ’17

1. The first Thanksgiving was actually a three-day celebration.

Today, Thanksgiving is one day — maybe two if you count Black Friday. But apparently the Pilgrims wanted to party even harder. Governor William Bradford organized the feast, inviting the Plymouth colonists’ Native American allies. But it was only until the Wampanoag Indian guests came and joined the Pilgrims that they decided to extend the affair.

2. It’s unclear if colonists and Native Americans ate turkey at their feast.

There is truly no definitive proof that the bird we wait all year to eat was even offered to guests back in 1621. However, they did indulge in other interesting foods like lobster, seal and swan.

3. Today, a special part of Plymouth, Massachusetts, looks just as it did in the 17th century.

Modeled after an English village and a Wampanoag home site, the historic attraction Plimoth Plantation stays true to its roots. You can order tickets as early as June to attend a Thanksgiving dinner complete with numerous authentic courses, tales of colonial life and centuries-old songs.

4. The woman behind “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is also responsible for Thanksgiving’s recognition as a national holiday.

In 1863, writer and editor Sarah Josepha Hale convinced President Abraham Lincoln to officially declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote countless articles and letters to persuade the president — and the rest is history!

5. The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade didn’t feature any balloons.

But when the parade made its big debut in 1924, it did have something that might be even cooler than balloons: animals from the Central Park Zoo.

6. But we have a Good Housekeeping illustrator to thank for the parade’s first balloons.

German American illustrator Tony Starg, who completed illustrations for Good Housekeeping, also had a passion for puppetry, which he used make the amazing floats come to life in 1927.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1929

7. In 1939, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the third Thursday in November — not the fourth.

You might think President Roosevelt could predict the future, as he channeled a “Black Friday” mindset in making this decision. Even though the holiday had been celebrated on the fourth Thursday since its official recognition decades before, Roosevelt bumped it up a week — offering seven more shopping days to the holiday season. Americans, to say the least, didn’t love the change, so it was officially (and legally) switched back in 1942.

8. A Thanksgiving mix-up inspired the first TV dinners.

In 1953, a Swanson employee accidentally ordered a colossal shipment of Thanksgiving turkeys (260 tons, to be exact). To get rid of them all, salesman Gerry Thomas came up with the idea of filling 5,000 aluminum trays with the turkey – along with cornbread dressing, gravy, peas and sweet potatoes. They were sold for 98 cents, and were a hit. Within one year, over ten million were sold.

9. About 46 million turkeys are cooked for Thanksgiving each year.

It’s tradition, after all. And on Christmas, 22 million families host an encore with another turkey.

10. But not everyone eats turkey on Thanksgiving.

According to the National Turkey Federation, only 88% of Americans chow down on turkey. Which begs the question, what interesting dishes are the other 12% cooking up?

11. You might consume up to 229 grams fat during the big meal.

We hate to break it to you, but that’s about 3 to 4 times the amount of fat you should eat in a day.

12. The turkeys pardoned by the President go on to do some pretty cool things.

President George H.W. Bush pardoned the first turkey in 1989, and it’s a tradition that persists today. But what happens to the lucky bird that doesn’t get served with a side of mashed potatoes? In 2005 and 2009, the turkeys were sent to Disneyland and Walt Disney World parks to serve as grand marshal in their annual Thanksgiving parades. And from 2010 to 2013, they vacationed at Washington’s Mount Vernon state. Not bad!

13. Only male turkeys actually gobble.

You may have been taught in pre-school that a turkey goes “gobble, gobble” — but that’s not entirely true. Only male turkeys, fittingly called gobblers, actually make the sound. Female turkeys cackle instead.

14. Most Americans like Thanksgiving leftovers more than the actual meal.

Almost eight in 10 agree that the second helpings of stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie beat out the big dinner itself, according to a 2015 Harris Poll.

15. The Butterball Turkey Talk Line answers almost 100,000 calls each season.

Last year, the company’s popular cooking crisis management team also introduced a 24-hour text message line for the lead-up into the big day.

16. There are four places in the country named Turkey.

The U.S. Census has identified another seven called Cranberry, and a grand total of 33 dubbed Plymouth.

17. Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for plumbers.

Screw shopping. Thanks to all that food we gobble up, Roto-Rooter reports that kitchen drains, garbage disposals and, yes, toilets, require more attention the day after Thanksgiving than any other day of the year.

A New Relativity (or How Life Equals I See Squared)

 

Indulge me for a moment, please.

What’s your age? I know it’s a personal question, but say that number out loud (if only to yourself).

Next, subtract five. Say that number aloud (no one’s listening, promise).

Pretty similar, huh? Numerically, they’re not that distant. And if you were blessed enough to live into the double digits, live decades even, the difference may be marginal, at best.

Now return of that first number, your age. Think of all you went through to get to this moment. The loves and the hates, the brokered peaces and the broken pieces, the exes and the ohs, the wisdom and the foolishness that somehow did not topple you. It’s no small feat. When you think long enough of the road you hoed, it can leave a body fatigued. And ain’t we all?

But now, think of that second number, when you were five years younger. What did you used to be able to do? How long could you work, walk, play, engage? What occupied your frontal lobe? Who did you see in the mirror? It’s only five years, but when you think of that body, that traveler, the steps feel more springy.

It doesn’t matter your age. Five years ago, you were a young person. We can’t help but polish memory to a shine.

It could seem a cold realization, that time is little more than a candied apple which cloaks bruising that remains nonetheless.

But here’s the good part.

Think of five years from now. Perhaps you won’t like the number. Perhaps you don’t care. Either way, you will look back at today and see a young person. One who could walk for miles, smile for days, commit the beautiful and horrific errors of youth. Someone somehow…different.

That person is here. That person is now. That person is you.

Forget what I said about apples. Time is like a TV. You can go broke investing in resolution. Ultimately, a television’s worth rests solely on viewing angle.

For once, the automakers were right. That object, the one that’s in the mirror.

It’s closer than it appears.

 

 

Benny Bobblehead and Constance Cussalot

 

(HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!!)

I love fast food.

It’s not an easy confession to make. It’s like saying you love commercials (which I occasionally do too, and not just during the Super Bowl).

But you rarely hear someone professing their love of, say, Big Macs, though their personal economies may suggest otherwise. If anything, that giant M has become a scarlet letter of sorts, aglow in neon and pastels. A friend’s daughter makes sure the car is free of McD wrappers before mom picks up friends, lest they discover evidence she ate crap. The loss of that demographic must haunt the ghost of Ray Kroc. 

But take the M off sign, the Jack out of the box, the crown from the King, and the experience becomes something different. If you stopped at a local coffee shop every morning for your drink and biscuit, we’d find it quaint. The people cooking your food may wear a different uniform, but they are doing the same thing, providing the same service. Just in plastic.

Screw that. I get to know my fast food servers, who know my dog by name (and inquire when she’s not in the car with me). This morning, the manager of my local Jack in the Box literally chased me down before I pulled out of the drive-thru to give me a “VIP” key chain, good for 10% off any order, at any outlet, no expiration date or usage limitations. It’s a dubious honor, to be sure. I’m surprised they even have such a thing. But let’s see a Starbucks — or any coffee shop — offer customers something similar.

Plus, with fast food, you get experiences like Benny Bobblehead and Constance Cussalot, my favorite homeless denizens of my local McD‘s.

Benny is a homeless man who waits at the end of the McD drive-thru. He bobs his head constantly to peek around the corner to greet drivers after they’ve  they’ve picked up their orders (and change). It’s a brilliant location, one that rivals freeway exits. Regardless of whether you give him change, his response is the same: “God bless.”

Connie doesn’t request money, though she is less diplomatic. She waits at the exit of McD‘s, cussing up a storm. She’s more of a “goddamnit” girl than a godbless one. Keep your window rolled down, and, if she notices, she’ll toss a “motherfucker,” “bitch” or “asshole” your way. I wonder how many parents have had to explain Constance  Cussalot to their kids.

Last weekend, both were in fine form. Benny was looking dapper, decked out in a sport coat (minus the shirt). He’s more hirsute than I thought.  I gave him my change (though, confession: I keep the quarters), and, with windows yawning open, braced for Connie’s wrath. She was spewing Category 5 expletives.

“Damn motherfuckers!” she yelled at no one in particular. “Sonofabitches!!”

As we neared the exit, Esme heard the rant. Her ears perked as she stood on her hind legs, just tall enough to look out the passenger window at the commotion. She saw Connie and, for the first time, Connie saw her.

“GODDAMN!!…” Connie began — until she saw Esme. “Awwwww! Wittle doggie!! Whooz a good baby??!! Whoooz a good doggie??!! WHOOOOZ A GOOD DOGGIEEE???!!!”

Her kind vitriol trailed off as we merged into traffic. I assume she returned to her tirade at the next soccer mom she saw.

America may hold its baristas dear. I prefer to hold the pickles, hold the lettuce.