On the fourth Thursday in every November, people gather around the table to eat Thanksgiving dinner with their families and friends. The menu every year is basically the same with a few variations. On Thursday, November 23, Americans did the same thing and ate some of the same foods they have been eating over many years since the day was declared a holiday. The turkey seems to be the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals. How many turkeys do you think were consumed on Thanksgiving Day in 2017?

Turkeys eaten

The Turkey is the traditional meat served even though some families serve Cornish hen, duck, or chicken as their main meat.

Ham is also a staple on most people's menu. About 70 percent of Americans think it is not a real Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey even though the bird was not on the menu of the first Thanksgiving dinner. The pilgrims and Indians ate deer, duck, geese, oysters, lobster, eel, and fish.

It might surprise people that Swanson overstocked turkeys in 1953, and so many were left over. The company had the brilliant idea to package slices of turkey and add side dishes. The meal was frozen to be eaten any time of the year. That was the beginning of the first TV dinner that we consume today.

According to the National Turkey Federation, about 51.6 million turkeys were eaten on Thanksgiving Day compared to 22 million eaten at Christmas and 19 million turkeys eaten on Easter Sunday.

While these sound like huge numbers, they are much less than they used to be. Only 29 percent of the 244.5 million turkeys raised on farms in 2017 was actually killed and eaten.

Other foods

This year, about $2.983 billion was spent on the entire dinners in the United States. The amount included side dishes that were eaten along with the turkey.

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Those dishes included mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and candied yams. About 3.1 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were served. Approximately 859 million pounds of cranberries are produced each year, and Thanksgiving is responsible for about 20 percent of the sales.

The average person consumes about 4,500 calories during the traditional Thanksgiving celebration.

This includes snacking while cooking, eating what the children left on their plates, eating desserts and drinking beverages while watching football games, Macy's parade or the annual dog show on television.

Usually, there are enough leftovers for the next day or several days. Cooks have become creative when it comes to things to do with the leftovers. Some people admit they enjoy the food the next day while others say they ate enough of it on the actual day it was served.