Before the gobble, there’s always Google.
And the go-to search engine has answers for what Americans typically wonder as we close in on Thanksgiving.
The questions might surprise you, says Hilary Johnson of CenturyLinkQuote, which has compiled a state-by-state report of the top queries from November 2017. CenturyLinkQuote is an online sales agent for Century Link, a telecommunications company.
“No matter how steeped they are in Thanksgiving traditions,” Johnson says in a news release, “people in every state still have questions about this centuries-old feast — starting with ‘How old is Thanksgiving?'”
(First held in 1621, if you’re scoring at home.)
The first Thanksgiving was the most common question in only one state, West Virginia. But two other interrogatives logged results in 10 states each: the practical “When is Thanksgiving?” and the more profound “What is Thanksgiving?”
Since the latter question was tops in Tennessee in 2017, we posed it again last week. Our Google search turned up 482 million results for “What is Thanksgiving?”
Short answer: In North America, an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey.
Longer answer: The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621 and is held in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November.
Even longer answer: A similar holiday is held in Canada, usually on the second Monday in October.
The longer answer fills in the blanks for the survey’s other most common question, the previously mentioned “When is Thanksgiving?” (You’re welcome, Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.)
The even longer answer is a bonus for Missourians who were wondering, “Does Canada celebrate Thanksgiving?”
The results are compliments of Dictionary.com, which came up first in the search.
While we were googling, we looked into another state’s top search, turkey bowling. It’s just what it sounds like: a sport based on ordinary bowling, using a frozen turkey as a bowling ball and 10 plastic drink bottles as pins. Apparently, it’s a thing in Colorado.
Johnson says their findings about regional Thanksgiving habits initially seemed as diverse as the states themselves, but a few trends stuck out.
» The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Tops in New York, its home state.
» Pecan pie? Looked up most often by residents of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
» Pumpkin pie? The most popular search in Alaska. Johnson attributes this to the state’s ability to grow “stunningly large vegetables during its extra-long summer days.”
» Stuffing? Most wondered about in Connecticut and Vermont.
» Vegan Thanksgiving? Amazingly, there is such a thing. It was the top search in Oregon and Washington, D.C., areas with the highest number of vegans per capita, says Johnson.
Johnson says the CenturyLinkQuote team compiled the results from Google Trends, a website that analyzes the popularity of queries on Google. They looked at search volume around Thanksgiving-related terms throughout November 2017 and determined each state’s score based on how much more a state searched that term than the other states.
Which brings us to the question most-googled in four states: “What restaurants near me are open on Thanksgiving?” Georgia and Alabama were included in that query, but surely not by residents living just across the state line from Chattanooga.
That’s because a list of local restaurants open Thanksgiving Day was included in Anne Braly’s Side Orders column in the Nov. 14 Times Free Press (and we’ll repeat a condensed version this Wednesday).
Maybe “newspapers” could go on the list of things you’re thankful for — if, like South Dakota, you need ideas.
Contact Lisa Denton at [email protected] or 423-757-6281.
Findings by state
* Does Canada celebrate Thanksgiving: Missouri
* Does England celebrate Thanksgiving: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia
* First Thanksgiving: West Virginia
* Friendsgiving: Illinois, Washington
* How to cook a turkey: New Hampshire
* Macy’s Parade: New York
* NFL on Thanksgiving Day: Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Rhode Island
* Pecan pie: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma
* Pumpkin pie: Alaska
* Restaurants open on Thanksgiving near me: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky
* Stuffing: Connecticut, Vermont
* Thanksgiving games: Wyoming
* Things to be thankful for: South Dakota
* Turkey bowling: Colorado
* Turkey trot: Wisconsin
* Vegetarian Thanksgiving: District of Columbia, Oregon
* What is Thanksgiving: Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee
* When is Thanksgiving: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah