Five myths about Turkey Day

SSuchy Editor

    1. The first Thanksgiving’s menu looked much like the modern day Thanksgiving menu.


    Myth:  The winter of 1621 – the first winter in the New World – killed off 46 of the original 102 Pilgrims.  Luckily, soon after that terrible first winter they enjoyed a particularly bountiful harvest.  Taking any opportunity to celebrate, the Pilgrims decided to invite 90 of their closest Native American friends who had helped them through the colder months to a huge feast: the first Thanksgiving (though it wasn’t called that at the time). 


    The first meal included corn, but the meat of choice wasn’t turkey, but  more likely venison, fish and water fowl, such as goose or duck. If the birds were stuffed, it wasn’t with bread, but with herbs and onions.  And there wasn’t a pumpkin pie in site.

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    However, there is one big similarity between the first Thanksgiving and today’s:  That first celebratory meal was prepared by a grand total of six women.


    2. Thanksgiving became an annual tradition right away.


    Myth: The next Thanksgiving meal was not held until 1631.  This celebration was thrown by Governor William Bradford and denoted as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to God for restoring a ship full of supplies that was feared to be lost at sea.  No word if Gov. Bradford helped the women with the cooking.


    Gradually Thanksgiving became an annual tradition in America.  George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation on November 26th, 1789 and President Franklin Roosevelt established Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November in 1941.  We’ve been indulging regularly ever since.


    3. The tryptophan in turkey will make you drowsy.


    Myth: The amino acid tryptophan is often blamed for the post-Thanksgiving feast crash that seems to befall our grandfathers and uncles.  While the tryptophan can cause drowsiness, it must be taken on an empty stomach and in rather large quantities to produce the sleepy effects.  Also, foods such as eggs, pork and cheese contain as much tryptophan as turkey.


    Thanksgiving drowsiness has more to do with overindulgence than the turkey.  It takes a lot of energy for the body to digest all that food. 


    4.  Sweet potatoes are always healthier than white potatoes.


    Myth: On their own, yes, sweet potatoes do trump white potatoes in the nutrition department.  They are higher in fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C, with about the same number of calories.  But, it is rare for sweet potatoes to be served alone.  Popular sweet potato recipes also include loads of sugar, butter and even marshmallows.  And this treatment of sweet potatoes is no healthier than white potatoes slathered with butter.



    5.  The Detroit Lions never win on Thanksgiving Day.


    Myth: It may just seem that way.  Actually, they’ve won on Thanksgiving almost as often as they’ve lost.  Their record is 33-37.


    The Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving.  So, we are always guaranteed at least two football games to help us fall asleep after the big meal. And remember, don’t blame the tryptophan.


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    Smithsonian Magazine, What was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving? (November, 2011). Retrieved from:

 , Creating a National Thanksgiving Holiday.  Retrieved from:

 , Does eating turkey make you sleepy? Retrieved from:


    Detroit, Thanksgiving day in Motor City. Retrieved from:


Published On: November 21, 2012

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