Real Turkeys Can Fly (10 little known turkey tidbits)

Wild Turkey Flying

photo: Friends of Kootenay

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thank you for being members of the Fooducate community, and for your loyal support! Here are some interesting factoids you can share with your dinner mates tonight:

1. 91% of Americans eat Turkey on Thanksgiving.

2. The turkey we consume today is nothing like the turkey Americans ate 100 or 200 years ago. It has been bred for an extra large breast, just like its chicken cousin. In fact, the turkey’s body is so warped it cannot walk very well, nor can a turkey copulate to reproduce. Artificial insemination to the rescue.

3. There is a resurgence in heritage turkeys in the last few years, with some birds fetching prices of $100 or more!

4. Real turkeys can fly, but not the ones commercially grown.

5. The name “turkey” comes from the country of Turkey. A few hundreds of years ago, merchants from the Ottoman empire (now Turkey) brought fowl from Madagascar and traded it with the rest of Europe. Eventually, this “Turkey Fowl” found its way to the new world, where it was bred with native wild fowl for consumption. The name “turkey fowl” was shortened to “turkey”.

6. If Benjamin Franklin would have had his way, turkey would be our national bird instead of the eagle. Thomas Jefferson said No, and ever since, a male turkey is also known as a “Tom”.

7. The original Thanksgiving feasts celebrated by the Pilgrims did NOT include turkey. What they did eat: wild game, berries, acorns, squash, fish, maple syrup, and cranberries.

8. The average turkey sold in the US has doubled in weight since the 1960′s.

9. Turkeys can die of heart attacks. How do we know? In the 1950′s when the Air Force test flights started breaking the sound barrier, nearby turkeys dropped dead. Turns out they were scared to death…

10. The presidential turkey pardon, in which 2 lucky birds’ lives are ceremonially spared by the US president, is a tradition that started with president Harry Truman.

  • Mike Luque

    Man, why do we Americans do that? We breed the turkey out of turkey. I was talking to a client about her family possibly getting a wild turkey from their farm and she said they’re too “gamey”. I responded with “Oh, you mean they taste like an actual turkey?!?”
    I want to get heritage or wild turkey.

  • Cindy

    Just a question about the source for the tidbit about the origins of the turkey. According to howstuffworks, the turkey is native to the US and the domestic turkey we eat is descended from the strains of wild turkey from the Mexican peninsula.

  • Jeff Sanders

    Even wild turkeys can’t fly much more than a couple meters. My what a loss. SMH.

    • Tylar

      You obviously have never seen a wild turkey fly…

  • HeathK

    Wikipedia says the Turkey was domesticated in Mexico 2,000 years ago. I can’t imagine the country of Turkey having anything to do with the bird. That seems like a joke or rumor. Also, I love Turkish restaurants, but I’ve never seen any turkey kababs.