Turkey Time Info

Madisen Tucker, Editor-in-Chief

History of The Turkey

Wild turkeys were originally discovered in ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, they were revered with religious festivals. They honored the bird with necklaces and headdresses made of its feathers.

However, the birds were still acknowledged as an important food source by other civilizations such as the Navajos. They practiced penning and fattening up the turkeys for food, this was an early form of the bird’s domestication.

In 1519 turkeys were brought from the New World to Europe and they became prized for their unique taste. Due to the increasingly high demand, the birds were domesticated in Europe and North America.

While the United States was in its youth, Ben Franklin was of the belief that the turkey should be the national bird. While the idea did not gain traction, Franklin later wrote a letter to his daughter highlighting his favor for the bird.

The bird didn’t sit proudly as a centerpiece on American dinner tables until the 19 th century when president Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.

The Big Bird Blunder

Overhunting and deforestation in the late 1800’s had sent the turkey population plummeting.

Conservation methods such as trapping and relocating were put in place to help the population stabilize.

The first presidential pardon, although it was unofficial, for a pair of wild turkeys took place in 1947. The pardon ended up cementing the bird’s legacy and creating an annual tradition.

In 1973 the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded. The mission statement on their website states the following.

“The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.”
When the organization was founded, roughly 1.3 million wild turkeys were left in North America. NWTF worked to restore health to the habitats of turkeys and the population of the wild turkey.

They did this by buying out land that was set as a reserve. The turkeys on the reserves then mated and the population was brought up over time. The only time hunting was allowed was at the peak of the populations.
The hunters fund a majority of the expenses that the reserves have, which is another reason they’re allowed to hunt.

Cooking Dinner Bird

There are several different ways that turkey can be prepared, traditionally for Thanksgiving a turkey will either be fried, grilled, or roasted in an oven.

When roasting a turkey, cook time and temperature depends on both the weight and if the turkey is stuffed or unstuffed.

Appropriate times according to eatturkey.org are listed below.



For frying part of your feast, you’ll need the following:
– 40 to 60 Quart port with a basket
– A burner with a propane gas tank

– A thermometer to measure oil temperature
– Five gallons of oil
– A meat thermometer specifically for the turkey

It is also recommended that first time fryers keep a fire extinguisher close by and potholders to move the turkey.

Location is important when frying; turkeys cannot be fried in a closed-in space attached to buildings. Anything that can either catch fire easily or be stained by oil, such as concrete, should be avoided.

Level grassy areas, or areas with dirt are suitable to fry turkey on. Smaller, unstuffed turkeys are the best for frying because of their size.

You can either bread them and coat them with a dry rub beforehand. If you want to go an extra step you could also add a marinade and inject 2/3 of the marinade into the turkey and baste the rest on the skin.

National Wild Turkey Federation
Eat Turkey
The Spruce