America's Bird

Mistakenly named, the turkey is native to the forests of North America, and lived here long before either Columbus or the Pilgrims landed on American shores. Accounts of how the distinctive-looking bird got its name vary, but there is some agreement that it was originally mistaken for a type of guineafowl – a family of birds native to Madagascar, imported to England by way of merchants from Turkey. Thus, the early British settlers who first came upon the All-American bird named it "turkey fowl" – "turkey" for short. [1]

Colonist William Bradford wrote in his journal about hunting wild turkeys in the Plymouth area during the autumn of 1621. This bit of authentic American history, and the fact that turkey is uniquely American – and unexpectedly delicious – led to it becoming the Thanksgiving meal of choice after President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. [2]

Fortunately, with a wide array of right-sized turkey cuts readily available, Americans today can enjoy America's bird at any meal, any day of the year!