Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving and Frozen TV Dinners

This is the final installment of the Five Things You Didn't Know about Thanksgiving project that I created as a big thank you for my TpT and blog followers. 

Have a happy, restful Thanksgiving break!

Five Things You Didn’t Know about Thanksgiving

#5.  A Thanksgiving Blunder Got Americans Hooked on Frozen TV Dinners .
By Margaret Whisnant
   In 1923 Clarence Birdseye developed a way to flash-freeze and package fresh food.  By 1949 people could buy frozen dinners, and airlines served them to their passengers, but it took an oversupply goof and a brilliant marketing campaign by C.A. Swanson & Sons to get Americans hooked on frozen TV Dinners.
   Too much turkey!  That’s what started it.
   In the fall of 1953 someone at Swanson, a frozen-food business in Nebraska, grossly overestimated the number of turkeys Americans would buy for Thanksgiving.  They got stuck with 260 tons—almost half a million pounds—of frozen bird and nowhere to store it.  They loaded the overstock foul up onto 10 refrigerated railroad cars that rumbled along to keep the electricity going while someone figured out what to do.  Most people say that Swanson salesman Gerry Thomas came up with the solution during a airplane flight.

     Thomas sat looking at the aluminum tray that held his meal and had an “Ah-ha!” moment. He convinced his company to order 5,000 of them.  An assembly line of women quickly filled them with a festive concoction of turkey, corn-bread dressing with gravy, peas crowned with a pat of butter, and sweet potatoes. The selling price was 98¢. The next step was to explain to American consumers why they needed to buy them. Thomas knew how to do that, too
   In 1953 millions of Americans were already addicted to TV, and he took
full advantage of the situation.  In his magazine ads and TV commercials,  Swanson’s “TV Brand Frozen Dinner” made it possible for a busy mother to prepare individual meals for her family in 23 minutes.  Pop the aluminum tray into an oven and soon everyone would be sitting in front of the TV, eating a delicious meal from its own container, and enjoying their favorite program.  Thomas didn’t miss a single detail.  The frozen dinner was packaged in a box designed to look like a 1950s television, complete with tuning and volume knobs. The food appeared on the screen.
    Yes!  People had to have it.  What a shame it would be to deprive a homemaker and her family of such bliss. Surplus turkey flew out of supermarket freezers.
     By the end of 1954 Swanson had sold 20 million TV dinners.  America was hooked.  Dessert, by the way was added in 1960.  About eight years later, microwave ovens sealed the deal.
     So far, all subsequent rehabilitation attempts have failed.


Download this series installment with 5 CCSS-aligned questions and answer keys HERE. 
This product is copyrighted by Margaret Whisnant.  It may not be edited, copied, or reproduced for any reason other than classroom use.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A President Messes with Thanksgiving

This is #4 in the free downloads for my TpT and blog followers. 

Five Things You Didn’t Know about Thanksgiving

#4.  President Franklin Roosevelt Made a Mess of Thanksgiving

By Margaret Whisnant
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanore Roosevelt
   Since Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation, Americans had been celebrating Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November.  In 1939 the country was still clawing its way out of the Great Depression. That year Thanksgiving fell on November 30, the fifth Thursday and last day of the month.  Retailers were concerned that the short shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas would send sales down the drain. They asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was always looking for ways to boost the struggling economy, for help.
     Like Lincoln, as the nation’s chief executive Roosevelt could make certain decisions without anybody’s permission, including moving Thanksgiving to November 23, the fourth Thursday, thereby providing a longer shopping season.  He made the announcement on October 31, 1939.  Problem solved.
   Nope!  Problems created!
   Most Americans had already finalized their plans for travel and family gatherings. College football teams and their fans were set for November 30. State and local governments had long since scheduled the last Thursday as a day off for their employees.  Millions of people were confused and irritated.
   Thanksgiving 1939 was a fiasco.  Some states and the District of Columbia switched to the 23rd, but others stood their ground and celebrated Thanksgiving on the 30th.  A few states gave everybody two Thursdays off in November.  Folks called the extra holiday “Franksgiving.”  The same fracas was repeated in 1940, but it got squashed before round three.
   In 1941 Congress passed a law locking Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November.  That settled it.  No individual would ever again have the power to mess with Turkey Day, not even the President.



   Download your free copy of this article with 4 CCSS-aligned questions and answer keys HERE.  This is a word document that you can use in its original form or edit to suit your needs. 

Tomorrow:  #5.  A Thanksgiving Blunder Got Americans Hooked on Frozen TV Dinners .


 This material is copyrighted by Margaret Whisnant and may not be edited or reproduced for any reason other than classroom use.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving and Mary Had a Little Lamb

Here's #3 of the Five Things You Didn't Know about Thanksgiving freebies with heart-felt appreciation for my TpT and blog followers.
Five Things You Didn’t Know about Thanksgiving
#3.  Thanksgiving and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” Have Connections
by Margaret Whisnant
   In 1863 as the American Civil War raged, President Abraham Lincoln received a letter from 74-year-old Sarah Josepha Hale, America’s first woman novelist and editor of the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book.  For more than 15 years she had been writing to presidents asking them to set aside a day for a national Thanksgiving.  Five different presidents had ignored her.  Perhaps it was because a number of states, mostly in the North, were already observing Thanksgiving, but not on the same day.  If the celebration was to become an American institution as Sarah hoped, the president would have to designate a fixed, annual date for the whole nation.
   On September 16, 1863, she wrote another letter.  Not only did President Lincoln not ignore Sarah’s request, he acted immediately.  Less than three weeks later on October 3,  he issued a presidential proclamation. It was now official. The last Thursday of November was Thanksgiving Day all over the U.S.
   If she had done nothing more, Sarah would have gone down in history, but she had already accomplished something quite significant in 1830. She published a book entitled Poems for Our Children, which included “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Sara claimed authorship.  Later, Mary Sawyer from Sterling, Massachusetts, told a slightly different story.  As a child, she had had a pet lamb that she took to school on a dare.  A visitor, she said, witnessed the ruckus and wrote a short poem about it.  A copy eventually worked its way to Sarah, who wrote the final verses.  Sarah always challenged Mary’s story, insisting that she had written the whole poem.  Mary and the lamb’s day at school, however, were her inspiration.
   Whether she did or did not do all the writing, Sarah was the first to publish the nursery rhyme, and her name is on the music as the lyricist.
   If by some coincidence you should hear a child singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” during a future Thanksgiving meal, smile!  You’ll be the only person in the room who gets the connection.  

Download the full article with CCSS-aligned questions and answer keys by clicking HERE.  Like the previous two, this is an editable word document that you can customize according to your classroom needs.


#4.  President Franklin Roosevelt Made a Mess of Thanksgiving
  This material is copyrighted by Margaret Whisnant and may not be edited or reproduced for any reason other than classroom use.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cranberry Power Bar

Here's the second posting for my TpT and Blog followers in the Five Things You Didn't Know about Thanksgiving series:

Five Things You Didn’t Know about Thanksgiving
#2. Cranberries Were a Key Ingredient in the World’s Original Energy Bar.
by Margaret Whisnant

Massasoit and Governor John Carver

  Thanksgiving dinner with cranberry sauce is an American tradition.  At the first feast, however, cranberries probably attended in dishes brought by the local Wampanoag, who had been gathering and eating them almost a 100 years before the Mayflower arrived. 

   From Massachusetts to Oregon and north into British Columbia and Quebec, Native Americans knew cranberries were a super food 400 years before science understood the value of their high antioxidant content.  They even used them to create the world’s original energy bar.

    They called it pemmican—a mixture of pounded cranberries, ground dried deer meet, and fat tallow. Stored in animal skin pouches, pemmican could last for months and provide nutritious calories for long trading and hunting journeys. 

    Every good history student knows that the Pilgrims would not have survived that first winter without help from the Wampanoag, but it appears they never warmed up to pemmican.  Instead, they incorporated all the new foods from the area into their familiar, traditional English recipes.  In 1621 the idea of an energy bar was just too far out of the their comfort zone.
   Nobody’s perfect.



To download the full document with CCSS-aligned questions and answer keys, click HERE.  This is a word document that you can use as is or edit for your particular needs.  Tomorrow: 

#3.  Thanksgiving and “Mary Had a Little Lamb” Have Connections


This material is copyrighted by Margaret Whisnant and may not be reproduced for any reason other than classroom use.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pilgrim Table Manners

   This is the first in a series of 5 informational texts I will be posting as free downloads for my TeachersPayTeachers followers and my blog followers.

Five Things You Didn’t Know about Thanksgiving

#1. The Pilgrims Ate with Their Fingers

by Margaret Whisnant

The First Thanksgiving   Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930)
(Image:  Wikimedia Commons)
        No, the Pilgrims did not have bad table manners.  They simply used what they had—knives for carving and cutting and spoons for mushy foods.  Forks, as we know them, hadn’t been invented.  

    A type of two-tined instrument was available in England in 1621, but mostly it was used as a companion for a carving knife. The English saw no reason to use it for eating. “Why should a person need a fork,” they asked, “when God has given him hands?”  Besides, their two prongs couldn’t hold on to food like fingers.  Even worse, using a fork was just plain sissy!

    The Pilgrims and the English weren’t the only fork haters. The French were also slow to accept them.  In their opinion, using forks for anything besides carving had a snobby, uppity air about it.  With such a reputation, it was predictable that forks would slowly became a status symbol for rich people, who used them for sticky foods or dishes that might stain their fingers. Still, food continued to slip through the two tines. The development of a French model with four curved tines solved the spillage problem in the late 1600s.  People, rich and common, liked the new design.  Finally in the early 1800s, forks were widely accepted and used in Europe.  By the time they migrated to America, they were 200 years too late for the first Thanksgiving feast. 

     The Pilgrims, therefore, are exonerated!


To download your free printable copy of this article with added questions and keys click HEREThis is a word document that you can use as is, or edit to suit the needs of your students. 


Watch for the second article tomorrow:   #2:  Cranberries Were a Key Ingredient in the World's Original Energy Bar
This material is copyrighted by Margaret Whisnant and may be edited or reproduced for classroom use only.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

has snuck up on us again!
   How well I remember!  The days between the first day of school to Halloween often seemed to drag along, and then before I knew it, November was here.  The days from November 1 to the last day before Christmas break seemed to fly by in a haze.  What I never figured out was whether my students were hyperactive and excited, or whether it was me.
Well, OK!  It was me!
   Looking for a free seasonal item to help you let loose the excitement and keep your students focused?  Download this one:
    Thanksgiving Anagrams


   For a couple of inexpensive lessons, take a look at these:
       Enjoy the seasonal rush and the Thanksgiving break!





Sunday, August 10, 2014