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Thanksgiving by the Numbers

Today, our blog post is brought to you by the staff of DASIL, including our peer mentors, programmers, and our Iowa History Project team. Enjoy some food for thought as you digest your Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Word Cloud

1.  Per-capita annual production of turkey is more than 14 times higher now than it was 100 years ago. In 1914, only 1.1 pounds of turkey were raised per person annually; in 2012 (the last year for which data are available) 15.9 pounds of turkey were raised per person. And that’s down from the peak of 18.1 pounds of turkey per person in 1996!– Julia Bauder, Assistant Professor and Social Studies and Data Services Librarian

2.  How many miles will your turkey travel from the farm to your table? Likely, an average of 1,500 miles.– Toby Baratta, Student

3.  It is projected that the highest percentage of e-commerce purchases made on smartphones will occur on Thanksgiving day. Based on retail website visits since 2008, Adobe predicts 31% of e-commerce transactions made on Thanksgiving Day will be made from smartphones (presumably sneakily during family gatherings), as opposed to the projected 26% of purchases on Black Friday and 20% of purchases on Cyber Monday.– Juli Toia, Student

4.  Speaking of Black Friday, how many stores will be opening for holiday shopping on Thanksgiving? Black Friday has been encroaching more and more on Thanksgiving Day in recent years. While many stores have been opening earlier on Thanksgiving, several stores refuse to do so. Examine the following figures from the National Retail Federation on the Thanksgiving shopping trends.*

Will you be shopping today, or will you be waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday?– Sara Sanders, DASIL Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

Shopping on Thanksgiving Day over the Years. From National Retail Federation.
Holiday Shopping over Thanksgiving Weekend. From National Retail Federation.
Arrival Times of Consumers at Stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. From National Retail Federation Foundation.

5.  On average, Americans eat 245 Statues of Liberties worth of green bean casserole, 6,800 football fields worth of corn and 2,700 swimming pools worth of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving.– Juli Toia, Student

6.  The world’s heaviest turkey weighed in at 86 pounds.– Connie Lee, Student

7.  The average American will consume over 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day.– Sara Sanders, DASIL Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

8.  In 2013, more than 240.0 million turkeys were raised. More than 200 million were consumed in the United States. We estimate that 46 million of those turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter. Nearly 88 percent of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving.– Peter Bautz, Student

9.  Still hungry?  Check out this interactive map of each state’s favorite Thanksgiving foods.– Juli Toia, Student

10.  Take a look at this word cloud created from Thanksgiving poems.– Kathy Kamp, DASIL Director

Thanksgiving Word Cloud


* We are very interested in data visualization at DASIL. Please note that the “Holiday Shoppers who Shopped on Thanksgiving Day” visualization from the National Retail Federation is misleading due to the sizing of the pumpkins. It is an interesting visualization, but the size increases have no relationship to the percentage increases.

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