back to top

13 Surprising Facts About Your Thanksgiving Groceries

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

Posted on

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.”


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.

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.

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.