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13 Surprising Facts About Your Thanksgiving Groceries

You are the not the only person who thinks canned cranberry sauce is legit.

1. The Libby's plant near Morton, Ill., makes 85% of the world's canned pumpkin, enough for over 90 million pumpkin pies each year.

The factory churns out cans 24 hours a day from mid-August through October, when it closes for the season. Get Libby's pumpkin pie recipe here.

2. Libby’s even has its own special hybrid variety of pumpkin, which is actually looks more like squash.

It is a hybrid of the Dickinson pumpkin (pictured above) called Libby’s Select. The inside is indeed orange, but the outside is beige, meaning it looks more butternut squash than jack-o'-lantern. The company still calls it a pumpkin, though, because “Pumpkin inspires feelings,” explains Pumpkin, a book about pumpkins, “that squash does not.”

3. Almost three quarters of Americans serve store bought cranberry sauce rather than homemade at Thanksgiving.

“The log” makes up 75% of all cranberry sauce sales.

4. About 200 cranberries are used to produce each can of jellied cranberry sauce.

Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Also, Ocean Spray set up a temporary cranberry bog in NYC's Rockefeller Plaza earlier this year.

5. Americans consume 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season — enough to fill the entirety of the country's largest water park, twice.

Also enough to fill over seven Olympic-sized swimming pools.

6. This year Butterball is hiring its first-ever male turkey helpline spokesman via Facebook contest.

7. About half of all Americans cook their Thanksgiving birds with actual stuffing inside — and they really shouldn't.

To cook the stuffing thoroughly and kill any risk of salmonella, you'd have to overcook the turkey until it's lame and dry :(

8. In 1966, threatened by the growing demand for instant mashed potatoes, a group of potato growers hired a PR firm to help improve their image.

Lyndon Johnson’s White House chef Rene Verdon had just quit in what Time said was a “Gallic huff,” and the firm sent a bushel of potatoes to Lady Bird Johnson accompanied by a letter claiming Verdon resigned because he objected to serving instant and frozen “ersatz potatoes.” (It was in fact a request for cold pureed garbanzo beans that pushed him over the edge.)

9. Instant mashed potatoes are used by food stylists as fake ice cream.

Ice cream advertisements must feature actual ice cream, but instant mashed potatoes are often used instead of real ice cream in an ad for, say, chocolate syrup. (This trick has been used in movies as well. Back in 1962, the prop master of The Music Man ordered 64 gallons of pink mashed potatoes for one scene alone.) As for ice cream sundaes, they’re often concocted from mashed potatoes, or lard, with motor oil on top.

10. This is a marshmallow plant. In 2000 B.C., ancient Egyptians discovered that its sap could be combined with honey to make candy.

This ur-marshmallow was so delicious it was reserved only for royalty and the gods.

11. Marshmallows are now made with gelatin instead of anything remotely connected to the marshmallow plant and dyed a uniform bright white.

The dye is artificial color Blue 1.

12. Pie was banned in 17th Century England.

An act passed in 1644 forbid all Christmas-related activities (too pagan) — including pie. People continued baking, eating, and enjoying pies in secret until 1660, when the ban was lifted.

13. Of people surveyed last year, 17% admitted they had tried at least once to pass off a store-bought pie as homemade.

The survey was conducted by Mrs. Smith's and Edwards Desserts.