(Photo courtesy of Cap'n Crunch on Facebook)

Weird Thanksgiving Traditions: Turduckens, Cap’n Crunch Stuffing & More

November 22, 2023
By Matt Sterner

Thanksgiving — that time of the year when many families and friends gather around a table, tell weird stories, eat more than they normally would in one sitting, and then make it a point to leave early to avoid doing dishes.

I mean, that may not be everyone’s experience but if you think your family gatherings are weird and awkward at times, here’s a list of wonky Thanksgiving traditions that’ll make your experience seem normal.

Pardoning the Turkey

(Photo by Ashish Sharma)

It’s basically a formal declaration to the turkey that says, “Hey, we’re not going to be eating you for dinner this year.”

Quick history: In 1947, the Truman Administration first kicked off this tradition known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation — and it’s still goin’ on, too. Every year at Thanksgiving, the President brings a turkey into a public space and offers the feathered friend a “presidential pardon.”

The Almighty Turducken

a close up of a piece of cake on a plate
Turducken (flickr/lonbinder)

This one isn’t too strange until you think about how it’s created. First, a deboned chicken is stuffed into a deboned duck and then the two birds are then crammed into a deboned turkey. It’s the Russian Doll of Thanksgiving dishes. Also, the trend is so popular that they’re even making turducken dog food now.

Stuffing the Turkey with Cereal

a plate of food on a table
(Photo courtesy of Cap’n Crunch on Facebook)

Speaking of stuffing things in other things, here’s something that’ll tear up the roof of your mouth. Or is it the ceiling of your mouth? Either way, a few years ago, folks began opting for unconventional fillings when preparing their turkey, such as cereal like cornflakes and Cap’n Crunch. There are all kinds of recipes on the internet if you’re interested in stuffing the turkey with something other than the traditional breadcrumbs.

Frozen Turkey Bowling

This is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of balls and pins, you roll frozen turkeys toward rows of bottles, usually soda bottles. Invented in 1988, this “sport” is often played down the aisle of the frozen section at a local grocery store (we don’t recommend you do that, though). Try it out in your mom’s kitchen and see what happens (joking).

Breaking the Wishbone

Breaking the wishbone (Photo by Savy Sophie)

There’s a bone hanging out between a turkey’s neck and breastbone that helps them fly. Well, on Thanksgiving we rip it out and two people break it in half to see who ends up with the bigger piece. It’s an old tradition that’ll bring the person holding the larger piece good luck.

Here’s a quick history of the tradition: The ancient Etruscan civilization in Italy thought chickens could see the future and they’d stroke the furcula (AKA wishbone) to make wishes. At one point, there weren’t enough chickens and too many people hoping to make wishes (according to ancient Roman writings), so they started breaking them in half. When the tradition came to the U.S., the breaking of the wishbone became a competition of who’d get their wish granted.

Turkey & Gravy Soda

Turkey & Gravy Soda (Photo courtesy of Jones Soda)

Every once in a while, Jones Soda makes nearly undrinkable sodas and they sometimes release a full-on Thanksgiving dinner pack that includes a Turkey and Gravy flavor. I mean, I don’t even think Indiana Jones would drink this Jones Soda if it was required to retrieve a treasure.

One of the reviews online says that it’s “like drinking saline solution” while another person said it wasn’t too bad as long as it’s cold.

Turkey Toss

If you think this means tossing your leftover turkey in the trash, you’ve been doing it all wrong. Every year in different cities around the U.S., people get together to test how far and high they can sling frozen turkeys across a field. If you’re thinking that sounds like a waste of food, you’re absolutely right. These contests are particularly popular in the Midwest and especially in Indianapolis, Indiana where locals like to dress frozen turkeys in baby onesies and then light them on fire before competing.

Eating Competitions

Pie-Eating Competition (Photo by Pamela Joe McFarlane)

Aside from your hungry uncle cramming as much green bean casserole in his mouth as they can, competitive folks get together before Thanksgiving to stretch their stomachs at various eating competitions across the U.S. One of those events is a turkey-eating competition involving eating as much of a 20-pound turkey in a limited amount of time. A few years ago, Joey Chestnut gobbled down nine pounds in just 10 minutes.

Also, pie-eating contests (usually pumpkin pies) are popular around this time of year.

Walking to Make Room for Food

a person walking a dog on a leash
(Photo by Helena Lopes)

Some people go for a walk after their Thanksgiving meal to make room for dessert or even more turkey. Some call these strolls “Second Wind Walks.” Actually, this one isn’t so weird, right? There’s nothing strange about getting your circulation going. Stretch those legs, throw on a pair of stretchy pants, get some fresh air, and load up another plate.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tucson Foodie is a locally owned and operated community. Thanks to our partners and members, we are able to offer paywall-free guides and articles. We value your support and invite you to become a Tucson Foodie Insider today.

Upcoming Events

View all events
Double-click this headline to edit the text.
This is a block of text. Double-click this text to edit it.
Double-click this headline to edit the text.
This is a block of text. Double-click this text to edit it.
Double-click this headline to edit the text.
This is a block of text. Double-click this text to edit it.

Article By

At a very young age, Matt Sterner was gifted with the artistic ability to masterfully roll a burrito to the highest of standards, but the wrapped medley of delicious innards wasn’t his first love. Matt’s first true love was a...

Related Stories