The Shocking Number Of Turkeys Sold Each Thanksgiving

Mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, bread, pumpkin pie, and whatever else might be on your table this Thanksgiving all take a backseat to the star of the show: the turkey. These giant birds take hours to cook (if you're doing it properly) and are usually only prepared during a few holidays each year. According to the University of Illinois, "88% of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey on Thanksgiving." 

When you think about how many people live in the United States and celebrate Thanksgiving, that ends up being a whole lot of turkey. While the heaviest turkey ever raised weighed in about 86 lbs, the average weight of these birds is around 15 lbs, and typically consists of around 70% white meat and 30% dark meat, per the University of Illinois. That's a lot of turkey being sold and consumed every year, but the actual numbers are still pretty staggering.

Americans buy millions of turkeys for Thanksgiving each year

Thanksgiving is called Turkey Day for a reason — according to Time, Americans buy about 45 million turkeys for Thanksgiving every year. And even though Alexander Hamilton once said "No citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey on Thanksgiving Day," there are plenty of Americans who don't celebrate the holiday with a bird (via Mental Floss). But of course, many Thanksgiving celebrations still involve this particular poultry. Time notes that the amount of turkeys consumed in America has decreased a bit between 2017 and 1998, but "it has remained consistently around 240 million for the last decade."

Despite the brief decrease noted by Time, turkey consumption is far greater than it was decades ago. According to the University of Illinois, "In 1920, U.S. turkey growers produced one turkey for every 29 persons in the U.S." Today, that number is closer to a turkey per person! The increased popularity of turkey isn't just due to Thanksgiving, either. Around 22 million turkeys are sold at Christmas annually, and another 19 million turkeys are sold at Easter every year. That's a lot of fowl!