Thanksgiving typically means food, family and football. But the holiday also might be remembered for the birth of another American tradition, the TV dinner. In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged how many frozen turkeys the company would sell for Thanksgiving — by 260 tons. To get rid of the extra turkey, the company sliced up the meat, packaged it up with some trimmings and sold it frozen on aluminum trays. In 1954, the first full year of production, around 10 million turkey dinners were sold and the nation was hooked.
If you’re looking for more Thanksgiving trivia to wow your tablemates with, here are some other Turkey Day facts.
2nd: Rank of Thanksgiving among Americans’ favorite holidays. Christmas is No. 1.
1621: Year of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth Rock, Mass. between European settlers and the Wampanoag Indians.
3: Number of days the first Thanksgiving lasted between the 52 pilgrims and the 50 Native Americans.
6: Number of Pilgrim women and girls who prepared the first Thanksgiving feast. And cleaned it up.
1863: Year President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday.
95: Percentage of Americans who spend Thanksgiving with family.
46.9 million: Number of people who are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home, up 0.6 percent from last year.
$2.15: Average price of gasoline for this Thanksgiving. The average price last year was $2.80.
4: Percentage of people who spend Thanksgiving at a restaurant or bar.
46 million: Number of turkeys that are consumed on Thanksgiving, beating the amount consumed on Easter and Christmas combined.
16: The average weight, in pounds, of a turkey purchased for Thanksgiving.
88: Percentage of Americans who claim they eat turkey at Thanksgiving.
39: Percentage of people who say turkey is the dish they look forward to most at Thanksgiving, making it the most popular holiday food.
28: Percentage of people who are interested in trying a turducken (a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey), according to the Harris Poll.
78: Percentage of Americans who say they don’t plan on worrying about calories or diets over Thanksgiving.
4,500: Average number of calories an American will consume on Thanksgiving. The average amount of fat eaten: 229 grams.
1,550: Number of cooking fires on Thanksgiving in 2013, a 230 percent increase over the daily average.
4: Number of towns in the U.S. with the word turkey in their name. They include Turkey Creek, LA; Turkey, Texas; Turkey, NC; and Turkey Creed, AZ.
1924: Year of the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The first years of the parade featured live animals, including lions, bears, tigers, camels, goats, elephants and donkeys. The animals were replaced by helium balloons in 1927.
171: Number of giant character balloons that have been in the parade since it first started.
17: Number of giant balloons that will be featured in this year’s parade, which will also include 27 floats, 12 marching bands, 1,100 cheerleaders/dancers and more than 1,000 clowns.
8,000: Number of participants in the parade this year, including clowns, balloon handlers and marching bands.
4,000: Number of Macy’s employees who have volunteered freely to participate in the parade this year.
3.5 million: Number of people who are expected to watch the parade in person.
50 million: Number of people expected to view the event on television nationwide.