Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Little-Known Facts About Thanksgiving

by Robison Wells

I read a newspaper article the other day which described how the highlight of the first Thanksgiving was that the Pilgrims were graverobbers. They were all starving, you see, and they knew that the local tribes would bury their dead with big casks of corn. So, the starving Pilgrims would dig it up and try not to die. (Digging up the graves probably made it easier for the Pilgrims to bury themselves, when they died a few hours later. So, it's a win-win.)

But here's the Thanksgiving myth that I think is hilarious: you know that story you've heard all your life about how Squanto taught the pilgrims that the best way to grow corn was to put a little fish in with the seeds (to provide fertilizer)? Well, recent research has shed new light on that story. Yes, Squanto taught them that, but guess where he heard it? Europe! Squanto (real name: Tisquantum) was kidnapped by the English in 1605 and ended up living in Europe for seven years. There is no archaeological or anthropological evidence that any Indians ever planted fish with their crops--but the Europeans used to do it all the time! The reason that the Pilgrims were unaware of this is because the Pilgrims were pretty much incompetent. (Reading the passenger lists, there were an awful lot of tailors and preachers and doctors, and relatively few farmers and builders and hunters and fishermen.)

Anyway, in light of these interesting Thanksgiving Day facts, I'd like to present a few more. These are extremely little-known, but 100%, absolutely true-ish. You should go add them to Wikipedia.

1. The original meal at Thanksgiving was not actually turkey, but New England clam chowder. In the 1930's, there was a big marketing push from the turkey farmers to change public perception. This all came to a head in 1937 when Josiah Stephens, owner of Stephens Oyster Cracker Co. and strident Thanksgiving purist, was shot dead while atop a giant hexagonal float at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

2. Senators who are in the pocket of Big Turkey:
Jim "Gobbler" Bunning (R, Kentucky)
Roger "Muscovy Duck" Wicker (R, Mississippi)
Byron "Megapode" Dorgan (D, North Dakota)
Jim "Distinctive Fleshy Wattle" DeMint (R, South Carolina)
Bernie "Meleagris Crassipes" Sanders (I, Vermont)
Robert "Bird" Byrd (D, West Virginia)

3. The Thanksgiving Classic, although a singular term, refers to a series of multiple football games. Most notable are the games involving the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. This dates back to ancient times, when Pilgrims wore cowboy hats while hunting lions.

4. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was originally designed as a Parade of Shame. Macy (named after Pilgrim Francis Bradford Macy) was the brother of minister Arthur Dimmesdale. On Thanksgiving Day, 1642, Hester Prynne was paraded around the streets of Boston as a warning to other adulterers. As years progressed, Shame Parade organizers discovered that they could make more money if the adulterers were scantily clad. (The balloon of Underdog, and the marching bands, came shortly thereafter.)

5. In the summer of 1620, there was a disaster at the London Stamping Plant--an apprentice left the buckle machine running all night long, resulting in thousands of unneeded buckles! Thanks to the quick thinking of fashion designer Chastity Mullins, the departing Pilgrims were convinced that all the cool people in America wore buckles on their hats and shoes. The slogan "Buckles Are Forever" was heavily advertised by the shipyards and churches--the two places Pilgrims were known to frequent--and thus the London Stamping Plant was saved!

6. Cranberry Sauce is a combination of rendered hog fat and tree sap.

7. Turkey contains a chemical that makes you sleepy after eating it: Due to a turkey's naturally vicious and combative temperment, farmers must feed them a daily cocktail of valium, oxycodone and marijuana. Of course, some of that ends up in the meat.

8. The cornucopia is based on a Greek legend: Zeus enchanted a severed goat's horn that would grant the owner a never ending supply of whatever they wanted. This really makes me wonder why pictures always show cornucopias filled with vegetables. Because: have you never heard of money?

I hope that these little-known facts have been as enlightening to you as they were to me, when I discovered them after years of personal research and introspection. May you all have a marvelous, grave-robbing Thanksgiving!


At 11/25/2008 4:12 PM, Anonymous William Morris said...

"Distinctive Fleshy Wattle"

You're just jealous, Rob. Everyone should have a wattle like Sen. DeMint.

At 11/25/2008 4:29 PM, Blogger Th. said...


You had me going for a second.

Nice ones.

At 11/26/2008 1:21 AM, Blogger Nancy Campbell Allen said...

I have a daughter who would be all over that clam chowder tradition.

Witty, as always! Thanks for the laugh.

At 11/26/2008 2:21 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

The float is hexagonal because oyster crackers are, right? Nice touch. =)

At 11/30/2008 8:24 AM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

thanks for clearing that up. Now I can think about the holiday with only gratitude and stop thinking about those robbing pilgrims.


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