Today is Thanksgiving. Long before Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, various harvest festivals were popular as a religious holiday or as a day to celebrate a successful growing season. But over time it also became a time to reflect on the past year and to give thanks for all the good things that occurred during the year. President George Washington issued the first proclamation for a national Thanksgiving in 1789 and one hundred years later Governor John Miller issued the first proclamation for the State of North Dakota.
So today there are many ways to observe Thanksgiving. Some observe it for the religious significance of giving thanks to God for the blessings bestowed during the year; some as a special time to gather with family; and there are some who spend the day worshiping the television set with all the great sporting events. There are even those who observe it as a day of rest in anticipation of the frenzy to follow on Black Friday. But for many, it is time to revert back to the more pagan rituals of gluttony and overindulgence. It is a day of turkey, hams, pies, sweet potatoes, cranberries and lots of other delicious food stuffs that grace the table.
On this date in 1935, a letter to the editor of the Devils Lake Journal expressed concern over an announcement by the Department of Agriculture to create a streamlined turkey. The new breed of turkey was to have smaller legs, a broader back and a more plump-breasted body. But the writer’s concern was that the announcement didn’t mention anything at all about redoing the neck. In his opinion, the average turkey was like a giraffe in that respect. The turkey wastes a good deal of itself in the neck and no one feels particularly complemented when served that part of the turkey. So, this unknown crusader wrote that although it may be what this country needs above everything else is a streamlined turkey, hopefully they will not streamline the turkey into more neck as they develop less leg.
Over the past seventy-five years since that letter was written, turkeys have gotten larger and fuller breasted, but turkey necks seem to have remained unchanged; so perhaps that’s something for which to be thankful, on this Thanksgiving Day.
Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis
The Velva Journal November 28, 1935