Thanksgiving by the numbers: From 2.05 to 10 billion

(AP Photo/Bree Fowler)
(AP Photo/Bree Fowler)

According to a Harris Poll last Thanksgiving, where respondents could choose the multitude of things they give thanks for, 84% said they’re thankful for their family’s health, and 84% also said they’re thankful for their family’s relationships. Some sentiments were… less sentimental. The next-highest choice, 65%  said they’re thankful for easy access to technology.

Let’s look at Thanksgiving by the numbers (updated with this year’s costs for a Thanksgiving dinner)


$2.17 – How much less Thanksgiving dinner in Wisconsin costs this year compared to 2015, according to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation

$21.92 – Average price for a 16-pound, whole frozen turkey in Wisconsin in 2016

24 – Percent of Americans who will visit two homes for Thanksgiving meals

33 – Percent of Americans who make room for ham on the Thanksgiving dinner table

39 – Percent of Americans who say turkey is their favorite Thanksgiving dish (23% say it’s the stuffing, 12% say pumpkin pie, and 9% say mashed potatoes)

$47.91 – Average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner in Wisconsin in 2016, including enough turkey, cubed stuffing, sweet potatoes, buttered dinner rolls, vegetables, cranberries, pumpkin pie (with whipped cream), milk and coffee to feed 10 people

64 – Percent of Americans planning to drink wine with their Thanksgiving meal (47% plan to have a beer)

72 – Percent of Americans who expect to sit with 6 or more people for Thanksgiving dinner

83 – Percent of Thanksgiving hosts who prepare the entire feast with no help, which makes you wonder what those other 6 or more people are busy doing

91 – Percent of Americans who plan to have turkey as the centerpiece of their Thanksgiving meal

110 – Number of calories in a serving (one-quarter cup) of Ocean Spray’s jellied cranberry sauce

641 minutes (10 hours, 41 minutes) – How long the average American man would need to spend on a treadmill to burn off our next number:

4,500 – Calories consumed at the average Thanksgiving meal

46 million – Number of turkeys killed for the Thanksgiving holiday (76% will be roasted, 12% deep fried)

$670 million – Estimated amount Americans spend on Thanksgiving turkeys each year


32.5 – Percent of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers who say the deals get them to buy

47 – Percent of shoppers planning to go out on Thanksgiving, the second-least shopped holiday of the year

$299.60 – Average person’s Thanksgiving weekend spending in 2015 (includes dinner, holiday shopping and other expenses)

151 million – How many people shopped over the Thanksgiving weekend last year

$10 billion – Amount spent shopping on Black Friday last year


$2.05 – What the average gallon of gas cost in the U.S. last Thanksgiving, according to AAA. This year it’s about 9 cents higher nationally, but local prices are under $2 a gallon

4 – U.S. towns and villages named Turkey (Turkey Creek, Ariz.; Turkey Creek, La.; Turkey, N.C.; Turkey, Texas)

$205 – Average cost of a round-trip airline ticket for the 40 top U.S. routes

341 – Number of traffic deaths around Thanksgiving 2014 (Wednesday-Sunday), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

48.7 million – Number of Americans expected to travel 50 miles or more on Thanksgiving weekend, according to AAA, the most since 2007 (43.5 million will travel by car)


1621 – Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans hold a harvest feast at Plymouth Plantation; it lasts 3 days

1789 – Year President George Washington issued a national Thanksgiving proclamation

1863 – Year Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November

1920 – American Professional Football Association, later renamed the NFL, plays its first Thanksgiving football games

1924 – First year of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was originally called the Macy’s Christmas Parade, but still on Thanksgiving

1939 and 1940 – Years with two Thanksgivings. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Thanksgiving on the next-to-last Thursday of November to give stores more time for Christmas sales (back then, advertising for Christmas before Thanksgiving was considered inappropriate; it was a different time)

1941 – Congress and President Roosevelt pass a federal law so Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday in November, effective in 1942

1989 – Year President George Bush officially pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey at the White House. Although White House historians believe the pardoning ceremony dates back to President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, this was the first recorded use of the word “pardon” by a president rather than a press officer.

16 million – Number of Thanksgiving greeting cards exchanged each year (more than 70% are mailed, which is the highest percentage for any season, says Hallmark)

85 million – Combined viewership of three NFL games on Thanksgiving last year



Sources: AAA, HallmarkHarris PollHistory Channel, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Offers.comWalletHub, White House History, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Yahoo! Food