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Why Do We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

Homemade Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey with all the Sides.
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Sweet potatoes, creamy gravy, pumpkin pie, and warm, juicy turkey are all Thanksgiving staples. But with the variety of meats around, why do we actually serve turkey on Thanksgiving?

As it turns out, turkey is one of the most convenient types of meat to serve.

Think about it: turkey is a large bird and can easily feed a big gathering. It makes more sense to serve one 20-pound turkey than several small chickens.

Plus, turkeys were abundant on properties back in the day, so it was a convenient meal anyone could participate in serving.

Ovente Kitchen Oval Roasting Pan

Prepare your Thanksgiving bird in a large stainless steel roasting pan.

Many historians actually believe the first Thanksgiving in 1621 didn’t include turkey. While there is no specific mention of turkey in history, many records explain that the pilgrims ate beef or “fowl,” which could also be geese or duck.

Author Sarah Josepha Hale is partially to thank for establishing turkey as the main meat for Thanksgiving. In her novel Northwood, she described a roasted turkey as the centerpiece. Simultaneously, she was campaigning for Thanksgiving to be a national holiday to prevent the Civil War. Thanksgiving wasn’t declared an official holiday until 1863 by Abraham Lincoln.

Most of us will agree that turkey is a delicious centerpiece for a well-rounded Thanksgiving meal. If you’re looking to upgrade your dinner this year, why not flavor your turkey with a cold beer?

Kelsey Opel Kelsey Opel
Kelsey Opel is a freelance writer and digital storyteller based in Austin, Texas. She enjoys writing for food, entertainment and mental health spaces. Off the clock, she loves indulging in an avocado margarita and chips and queso at her favorite Tex-Mex spot in town. Read Full Bio »
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