A Mental_Floss Thanksgiving


Two bits of lighthearted holiday history from my old friends at mental_floss.

About The Presidential Turkey Pardon

The first official National Thanksgiving Turkey was presented by members of the Poultry and Egg National Board to Harry Truman in 1947. According to some reports, they ate him. Not that it necessarily matters, since the turkeys who get pardoned don't live for very long anyway. According to The New York Times, "Whether the turkeys come from a shelter or the White House, they don't live very long. Most adopted turkeys are commercially bred broad-breasted whites, genetically disposed to grow to a marketable size in about four months. Even on a diet of only a couple of cups of turkey feed a day, they become obese. They usually develop leg problems, congestive heart failure and arthritis."

About Black Friday

In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association warned Franklin Roosevelt that if the holiday season wouldn't begin until after Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday in November, retail sales would go in the tank. Ever the iconoclast, Roosevelt saw an easy solution to this problem: he moved Thanksgiving up by a week. Roosevelt didn't make the announcement until late October, and by then most Americans had already made their holiday travel plans. Many rebelled and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on its "real" date while derisively referring to the impostor holiday as "Franksgiving." State governments didn't know which Thanksgiving to observe, so some of them took both days off. In short, it was a bit of a mess.

Mental_Floss: The Somewhat Dark History of the Presidential Turkey Pardon & A Brief History of Black Friday.

Image courtesy Flickr user joiseyshowaa, via CC.