Butterball: The Numbers Behind Thanksgiving

Since President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday in 1863, Americans have been celebrating the day with family and friends. In preparation for this Thanksgiving, we’ve decided to share the surprising numbers behind the holiday.

Anything for Family

  • 7 million Americans traveled more than 50 miles for last year’s Thanksgiving.
  • Driving from 2 to 7 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the worst time to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, due to heavy traffic.

Turkey is King on Turkey Day

  • Following a 28-year annual tradition, the President of the United States has “pardoned” a turkey from being eaten every year since 1989.
  • 100,000+ questions are answered by the Butterball Turkey hotline every November and December.
  • 22% of the 212 million turkeys consumed each year in the United States are eaten on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Turkey consumption has nearly doubled over the past 30 years, from 8.3 pounds of turkey consumed per person in 1975 to 16 pounds per person in 2015.

The Leftovers

  • Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned for 36 years to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. In her spare time, she also wrote the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
  • The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924 and spans 2.65 miles with 8,000 participants and 3.5 million spectators.
  • Two NFL teams, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, have played in every Thanksgiving Day game since 1966.



Thanksgiving Day is not complete without NFL football, a tradition since 1920! Our SSAC Leadership team briefly set aside the conference preparations in order to crunch the numbers and bring you the following predictions for Thursday’s contests:

Vikings at Lions (-2.5)

A NFC North showdown for first place in the division is the opening act for this Thanksgiving. The Lions have recently come to play on Thanksgiving, bringing the stuffing onto the field and winning the last 3 years’ matchups by a combined 78-point margin. However, after the Vikings rolled over the Cardinals (and the Fox sound crew), we expect their defense to prevail and control the Lions’ receiving corps in a closely-fought game.

Our Pick: Vikings

Redskins at Cowboys (-6.5)

Will the Cowboys ever lose again? If Week 10’s Roethlisberger-Brown fake spike play couldn’t do it, it’s hard to say what will stop these Cowboys. The last time these two foes faced off on Thanksgiving, the RGIII-led Redskins won 38 to 31.  This time around, Zeke, Dak, and Dez may be too much for Washington to handle in a shootout.

Our Pick: Cowboys

Steelers (-8.5) at Colts

The Steelers and Colts head into a big Thanksgiving matchup, as both teams currently sit in second place in their respective divisions.  However, after snapping a four-game losing streak, the Steelers have momentum, with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell leading the way. Unfortunately, with Andrew Luck likely out with a concussion, the Fear the Neck Beard portion of this Thanksgiving Day parade is likely to be cancelled.  Expect the Steelers to feast this Thanksgiving, both on and off the field.

 Our Pick: Steelers