🔒 Thanksgiving data: Turkey, stuffing and more, by the numbers

Thanksgiving turkey dinner (Copyright 2021 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.)

Are you ready for that Thanksgiving spread? Tables across America are going to be filled with dishes end-to-end on Nov. 25. Here’s a look at some holiday dinner data. Come on in, have a bite, grab a leg!


🦃 Data-stuffed turkey

It’s the season of giving. And by giving, we mean, giving yourself a massive stomach ache. You knew it would happen, why didn’t you stop it?!

It’s because none of us can resist our favorite Thanksgiving dishes. For me, it’s the stuffing, the mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Yeah, I like the casserole, sue me!

With all of these dishes being exchanged for Thanksgiving, we thought it would be a great time to look at the super-stuffed data behind the holiday.

🍗 Turkey, by the numbers

If you’re a turkey, you may want to start running. (Also, kudos for learning to read and finding a computer)

Around 46 million turkeys are eaten around Thanksgiving, according to the US Poultry and Egg Association. Surprisingly, this only accounts for about a fifth of turkeys eaten year-round. That’s surprising to me. Are we all just eating turkeys for every holiday now?!

An estimated total of $783 million was spent on turkey last Thanksgiving, according to Finder. This year, it’s estimated that Americans will spend $927 million, $144 million more. This increase is driven by an expected increase in the price per pound of turkey this Thanksgiving compared to last year, and more people are likely going to gather this year.

Thanksgiving data. (Finder)

The average price of a turkey has increased by 18.4% in 2021, from $17.03 in 2020 to $20.15 in 2021. That’s greater than than the inflation rate of 5.7% from 2020 to 2021 so far.

🍽️ The other dishes

Turkey is cool, but it’s the sides that really make Thanksgiving. Everyone has their own take on the sides, their own secret family recipe or technique. Here’s some key data points on the sides:

  • Americans consume 80 million pounds of cranberries during Thanksgiving, including 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry.
  • Americans purchase nearly 214 million pounds of potatoes and 50 million pounds of sweet potatoes in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. That’s still not enough potatoes.
  • Campbell’s makes 40% of its total sales of cream of mushroom soup for the year leading up to Thanksgiving for green bean casseroles. This is a Midwest table staple. Around 20 million Americans serve green bean casserole, according to the Washington Post.

Here’s a fun infographic from the National Grocers Association (2017) and what Americans are buying ahead of Thanksgiving (nearly 19 million pies!):

Thanksgiving by the numbers. (National Grocers Association)

🦃 Thanksgiving in Michigan

So what are we eating the most here in Michigan?

Well, it’s pretty much impossible to know for sure. There are plenty of websites that try to figure this out by using Google search data. I’m not sure how reliable of a data point that is for most popular food. In fact, it could just be the hardest foods -- maybe people are looking for recipes. The point is, we don’t know why people are Googling a certain food -- so I don’t like to definitely use Google data as a major indicator.

But just for fun, we’ll do it anyway. According to Google data compiled by GrillCookBake, Michigan’s top Thanksgiving side dish is green bean casserole. (According to Zippia, it’s rolls. Who knows!)

Here’s a look at most popular sides across the U.S.:

Most popular Thanksgiving dishes by state. (GrillBakeCook)

➡️➡️ So what’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? We actually just launched a new bracket challenge to find the best of all -- you can vote right here!


💻 Our digits

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- Ken Haddad, ClickOnDetroit data team


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About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.