Thanksgiving is hands down the best holiday in America. I mean, what's not to love about a holiday that is centered around food? We can eat as much turkey, stuffing, and pie as we want and nobody judges. It's a win win. Despite these perks, few people know the holiday's storied past. Here are five Thanksgiving facts you can use to impress your family at the dinner table.
1. TV Dinners
The frozen TV dinner owes its creation to Thanksgiving leftovers. In the early 1950s, Swanson & Sons overestimated the amount of turkeys that people would buy by over 260 tons. The company tasked its employees to come up with a cost-effective solution for dealing with all the leftovers. Gerry Thomas came up with the idea of selling pre-made Thanksgiving meals, sparking a boom in the food industry.
2. Jingle Bells
"Jingle Bells" is one of the most popular Christmas songs out there. However, the iconic song was actually written as a Thanksgiving carol. James Lord Pierpont wrote the song in the early 1850s after he was inspired by Medford, Massachusetts' neighborhood sleigh races. "Jingle Bells" became synonymous with the Christmas season towards the end of the 19th century.
3. Two Thanksgivings
Believe it or not, but there was actually a time in American history where people celebrated two Thanksgivings. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would be observed on the fourth Thursday of the month instead of the last Thursday. Business leaders at the time inspired his decision, fearing that the shortened shopping season would decrease Christmas sales.Opposition to this decision grew quickly, as some states continued the traditional date while others followed FDR's decree. Those who followed FDR celebrated "Franksgiving," while the traditionalists celebrated "Republican" Thanksgiving. The national crisis ended in 1941 after Congress passed a law ensuring Americans celebrated on the same day.
4. Pilgrim's Clothing
When we think of Pilgrims, we all have the same stereotypical image: black and white clothing with big-buckled hats. These depictions, however, are not historically accurate. Pilgrims actually wore a variety of different colors and clothes, including purple, green, red, and blue.
5. The First Thanksgiving
Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving ate very differently from how we do today. While it is unclear whether or not Pilgrims ate turkey, it is known that they enjoyed deer courtesy of the Wampanoag Indians. Historians also believe that seafood was the one of the main items on the menu in 1621. Shellfish like mussels, lobster, and clams were all present at the first Thanksgiving.Sadly, the Pilgrims also missed out on having mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with marshmallows, which is a staple in almost every American household. Another tragedy at the first Thanksgiving was the absence of pie. Since Pilgrims did not have access to the flour and butter necessary to bake a pie, they were unable to indulge themselves on one of Thanksgiving's best modern traditions: pumpkin pie.