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  • Writer's pictureThe Intaglio Salon

Turkey vs. Ham, The Great Debate! Who Wins at your Thanksgiving Table?


It’s a fact of life; disagreements are inevitable and are caused by many reasons. I have heard it said that not only are disagreements normal, but they can actually be healthy, depending on how you handle them. The reasons behind disagreements are as numerous as the stars in the universe. Be it Cougars versus Dogs, politics, religion, leaving your clothes on the floor or not flushing, the reasons for disagreements are a true smorgasbord of life. And speaking of smorgasbords, at this time of the year a serious debate often arises at the Thanksgiving dinner table. The issue? Which is the better choice for Thanksgiving dinner, ham or turkey? I know what I think but let’s explore this!

Per Google:

· Americans eat about 46 million turkeys for Thanksgiving compared to 24.75 million pounds of ham. The average turkey purchased is 15lbs so that is 690 pounds of turkey!

· 88% of Americans eat turkey for Thanksgiving versus 60% consuming ham. (Note; combined, that’s more than 100% which is driven by people that have both)

Soooo……in terms of sheer volume consumed, turkey is the clear winner. But, as a ham acolyte pointed out to me, turkeys are larger. less expensive and can feed a larger group of people more economically. Thus, that would help drive more turkey sales versus the smaller ham. Convenience and economics do not equate to preference and choice! So, the real question, given a choice, which main course do people actually prefer for Thanksgiving….turkey or ham?

A couple of KIRO Radio hosts spoke to this topic on their separate shows. First, there was Michael Bumpus of the Bump and Stacy show. On the show Bump expressed his absolute hatred of turkey stating that he cannot even stomach the smell! (He also has some peculiar thoughts about Halloween candy but that can be saved for another time.) In many kitchens in this country the smell of a roasting turkey speaks of Mom, home and the good old US of A but this is an example of how not everyone is aligned with this and it ham for this Cougar. (I should explain that Bump went to WSU which is the basis for the Cougar reference.)

Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin of the Gee and Ursula show (also KIRO) discussed the same topic. Gee also expressed his disdain for the noble turkey saying something to the effect that turkey is “just for show” and that you are better off “putting a fake turkey on your table” for the Instagram shot! Dang, Gee! Now, I will say that that Gee’s co-host, Ursula Reutin,did come to the fowl’s defense in telling Gee how juicy and flavorful the bird is if you cook it right so the turkey did score some points on this program.

At this point I decided to conduct my own quick friends and family poll asking the question that if you had to choose between ham or turkey for your thanksgiving main course, which would you choose? In my quick poll of 10 people, turkey won 6-4. This limited sample was much closer than I anticipated! (By now, you may have guessed that I am on team turkey).


In my final step of my search for an answer to the question, “Which main course do people actually prefer for Thanksgiving….turkey or ham?” I again searched Google to see if there was a poll. I found one on this site in which ham proved to be the victor in a stunner 57.1% to 42.9%. Some notable quotes:

“Nothing is more all-American than a turkey dinner! The meat goes best with other classic Thanksgiving sides–you can't unleash that gravy boat onto your holiday ham. Honestly, if you're not eating turkey, is it even Thanksgiving?” Jed Harlett, The West Wing

“Ham offers the perfect ratio of sweet to salty; all turkey has to offer is dryness and disappointment.” ……The Taste of Home

So, we’re back where we started, disagreements are a fact of life. For our large family's Thanksgiving gathering the question of turkey vs. ham was resolved long before I was born and has been passed down from generation to generation. Both turkey and ham have made the cut and are on our Thanksgiving table. But, if I HAD to choose……turkey would cross the goal line first! Which one would score for you?

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Intaglio Salon Point Ruston


Some fun turkey trivia, source University of Illinois, Home for the Holidays.

· Turkey hens are usually sold as whole birds. Toms are processed into turkey sausage, turkey franks, tenderloins, cutlets and deli meats.

· The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog. (His name was Tyson. RIP 1989)

· Turkeys lived almost ten million years ago.

· Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clicking noise.

· Today there are wild turkeys in every state except Alaska.

· Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.

· Turkeys have been bred to have white feathers. White feathers have no spots under the skin when plucked.


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