How turkey became the Thanksgiving staple dish

Courtesy photo

Olivia Griffin, Staff Reporter

Thanksgiving and turkey go together hand-in-hand. But how did turkey become such a popular staple dish at most families’ tables during the holiday season?
To begin, you must go back several hundred years to the early days of the country. Coming from a major Revolution and facing other economic challenges typical of a young country, most Americans could not make the major economic sacrifice of slaughtering a larger animal, such as a cow. Chicken was more highly regarded than it was today, and most people could not slaughter their chickens, as they could still use the hens for eggs. While there was plenty of ham and pork around, however, it was not regarded as formal enough for a special meal such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.
“Among the big birds, turkey was an ideal feast,” Michelle Tsai said in an article on Slate.com. “Turkeys born in the spring would spend about seven months eating insects and worms at the farm, growing to about 10 pounds by Thanksgiving. They were cheaper than geese, which were much more cheaper to raise, and cheaper by the pound than chickens. Cost was an important factor for holiday shoppers, because people weren’t necessarily preparing just one meal; Thanksgiving was the time to bake meat and other types of pies that could last through the winter.”
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