Is Turkey Trending?

Turkey. It is a hot topic right now. You could even say its trending. People are trying to decide how big of a one to cook, how they should cook it, or should they even cook one at all. The President will pardon one lucky bird from doing his duty of becoming a meal. As of right now, the word turkey is trending with 620 thousand tweets, but the thing is, turkey was trending long before Twitter was even thought of.


In the beginning, the turkey was regarded as a god by the Aztecs and had two celebrations for the mighty turkey. It has fallen a little bit in esteem in today’s time. The Spanish were the first non-natives to discover turkeys.  They described them as a sort of peacock with great hanging chins. It would take years for the name turkey to stick to the bird. Because of Columbus and his mistake in geography, the birds were called anything from the rooster of India, the Peru bird, Lebanese bird, and the Ethiopian bird. The word turkey probably came from the Turkish merchants who knew of them or from the Indians that called them tukka, tukka because of the way they sounded.

The Aztecs weren’t the only ones to hold the turkey in high esteem. Benjamin Franklin,  thought the bird was of good moral, calling it a Bird of Courage. You may have heard that Franklin wanted to make the turkey our national bird; however, there is some dispute about that fact. In a letter to his daughter, he says that the eagle on the seal looks like a turkey. He went on to say that this was better as the eagle was not of good moral compared to the courageous turkey. Even if the turkey did not rise to be an emblem of America, it has certainly become iconic on at least one day of the year–Thanksgiving.

The Modern Turkey

turkeyToday’s domesticated turkey is much different than the ones that the Indians and explorers saw. Wild turkeys are brown and can fly, but domesticated turkeys (the ones in your supermarket) are white and cannot fly. The domesticated turkey is about twice the size of a wild turkey, explaining its flightless state. Domesticated turkeys have been bred to have white plumage so it does not discolor the meat. Wild turkeys need their brown plumage to blend in to their surroundings; they are also a lot quieter than their domestic cousins. That is probably a good thing so they don’t get eaten by predators. There are other heritage breeds of turkeys that come in gray, black and white, and red too.


Turkey Production Facts

turkey graph

  • Turkey production has increased 110% since 1970
  • In 2014, there were 237.5 million turkeys grown by farmers
  • North Carolina is the 2nd largest producer of turkeys behind Minnesota
  • The average person ate 15.8 pounds of turkey in 2014
  • Consumers turkey consumption has doubled in the last 30 years
  • 20,000-25,000 people are employed in America to help grow turkeys.

Turkey Trends

Cage Free: If you see this on a label, know that all turkeys are raised cage free. Domesticated turkeys are grown in large barns with free choice of water, plenty of feed, and shelter from the elements.

Hormone Free: Under federal law, it is illegal for any poultry to receive hormones. If you see this label, read the fine print. It will tell you that it is against the law. Don’t pay extra for a label.

Avian Influenza: This has been a major issue across America this year, claiming more than 40 million turkeys and chickens. While devastating for farmers and birds, it poses little threat to humans. No cases have been reported in American humans. It may pose a slight threat to your wallet, though. Turkey prices are around 15-20 cents higher than last year.

Thanksgiving Turkey

  • 88% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving
  • 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving
  • The average turkey bought for Thanksgiving weighs 16 pounds
  • 70% of the turkey is white meat and 30% is dark

The turkey has certainly proven itself as a bird worthy of esteem. It was trending hundreds of years ago, and it is still trending today. So, gobble up that gobbler and Happy Thanksgiving!

trending turkey


National Turkey Federation

North Carolina Poultry Federation

Colonial Williamsburg

University of Illinois

The Smithsonian


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The Poultry Site

The Old House in the Woods: A Childhood Wonder Goes Up in Flames

When Mom would tell my brother and I to go play outside, one of our go to things was explore the woods that edged our property. The woods were always a magical place, full of adventure and lots and lots of briers. We would discover animal tracks and pretend to be explorers. On one of our many explorations, we discovered an old house.

old house

It wasn’t some mystery house that no one knew about. My grandpa used to know the lady who lived there, but to my brother and I it was a domain filled with wonder and adventure. The old house had been abandoned for 20 years after the woman living there had died. Inside, there was still some of her dishes, an old fridge, a bed, and so much more. Most of the windows were still intact and you could still walk on the floors, though one side sagged.


My brother and I always felt some sort of reverence when perusing the house. At a point someone lived there, and left behind were the earthly belongings she could not bring with her. To children, the house was filled with mystery. We could only conjure images of the way the house used to be from our imaginations. Oftentimes, we discussed if we would find forgotten treasures (we never did and wouldn’t have kept it anyway). Adding to our wonder were words written on one of the walls. There, written in pencil was the name of my grandpa and his telephone number. To a child this might as well have been the discovery of Egyptian hieroglyphics. We were so excited and ran to tell my grandparents about our find.

Over the years we explored the area around the old house, discovering a well that we were strictly forbidden to go near. We also explored another abandoned house in the woods at my grandparents. This one had been abandoned since the 60’s and was too far gone to enter. Instead, we would peep in and use it as a backdrop for photos.


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The old houses always held a certain allure to me. They were my castles in the country. We made sure to share the fortresses with my two younger brothers as well, and they dubbed it Monster House after one of their favorite movies. Just as it had for my older brother and myself, the old houses captivated and intrigued my youngest brothers too. It is a special part of our childhood–being able to step back in history.


Last night that history was laid to rest in a display of fiery inferno, providing one last mystical show for my brothers and I. The owner of the houses decided it would be best to allow the local volunteer fire department to receive training practice and burn the buildings. In this way, the houses wouldn’t pose a threat to anyone as they further dilapidated and would also give the fireman in the community a chance to practice their fire fighting skills. It also gave us quite the show.





boys and fire



fire sheepLast night we said good bye to old friends. Gone is the childhood mystical fortress that held such wonder. In its place stands a lone brick fireplace and the memories of days gone by.

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