- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 23, 2000

How do we love Thanksgiving? Let us count the numbers. Like 3,750.

That's how many calories are in a single plate's worth of Mom's cooking today, at least according to Health Management Resources, which broke down the figures for the guilty and curious alike.

Among the findings: The turkey tallied 480 calories; the mashed potatoes, 300. The stuffing weighed in at 600 calories; the gravy, 800, and finally, the pumpkin pie with whipped cream logged 540 calories.

And by day's end, Americans will have eaten 675 million pounds of turkey alone, this according to the National Turkey Federation, which also reports that 91 percent of us eat turkey today.

Let us not forget another astronomical figure, though.

The Campbell Soup Co. estimates that its beloved Green Bean Bake that comforting melange of mushroom soup, canned beans and fried onions will appear on 20 million tables today. The original, incidentally, was invented in 1955 by one Dorcas Reilly, who managed the company's test kitchens at the time.

Campbell's is cautiously investigating a version with broccoli.

The folks at the Pilgrim's Hall Museum in Plymouth, Mass., in the meantime, are pushing Pumpion Pye today, a recipe that dates from 1671. Colonial bakers had their hands full.

The pumpkin is first cooked with eight spices including pepper, 10 eggs and sugar, then layered in a pastry shell with sliced apples, butter and currants.

The early cooks were then instructed to concoct a "caudle" of five egg yolks and white wine, poured this over all "until the eggs and pumpions be not perceived." And that was pie.

But back to the numbers.

Consider 2 million, which is the amount of calls the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line has received over the years from befuddled chefs. And there's 48 the number of counselors standing by to help in dire culinary moments. Once upon a time, the Butterball people swear, a woman's pet Chihuahua got stuck inside her turkey; the dog was freed, and dinner went on as planned.

There's $2 million, too. That's how much we spent on turkey deep-frying kits this year, according to Iowa-based Chef William's Cajun Injector Co.

For those in the dark, this newfangled way to serve the bird plunges the turkey into a vat of bubbling peanut oil the size of Lake Superior, a feat usually accomplished out on the driveway, or on the patio.

There is often much consternation involved. And some yelling.

Those with turkey-frying experience advise that the deed should not be attempted on deck or lawn, which can catch fire. The chef must also remain sober, lest the whole neighborhood go up in flames.

A turkey deep-frying kit includes a 40- to 60-gallon pot, a weird hypodermic device for adding flavor, a special burner stand that connects to a propane tank and a thermometer. One needs about 4 gallons of oil, too; the caloric count of this bird, meanwhile, is tripled.

For those who get the heebie-jeebies over pie-making, there's always Martha Stewart's Perfect Pie Kit, which includes two pie tins, something called a decorative venting cutter, pastry wheels and other notions. Miss Stewart wants $56, though, to share her pie-making prowess.

And for those who want to dispense with dinner altogether, Kozmo.com says it will deliver a complete turkey dinner with all the trimmings in under an hour. The idea is to order on line, then luxuriate at home at least in the 11 cities where Kozmo operates.

"And after dinner, we'll deliver your favorite movies or games," said Washington-area spokesman Mark Kurth.

There is good news for do-it-yourselfers.

We're paying less for our feast this year. A dinner for 10 persons this year will cost $32.37, down $1.46 from 1999, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. It is the first time the Thanksgiving dinner price has dropped since 1991.

Needless to say, Mr. Rooter the plumbing company reports that Thanksgiving is a record day nationwide. Business rises by 75 percent, mostly due to shenanigans with the kitchen disposal.

"People try to 'batch feed' the darn thing with turkey bones and spoons," noted plumber Mark Bonney of Redding, Calif.

There are also traumas with the toilet, he observed, but that's a different story.

Tomorrow is the year's biggest shopping day American Express predicts shoppers will spend an average of $1,684 per family on holiday gifts this year. The Martiz Marketing Research group estimates the average man will spend $874 while purchasing 17 gifts. Women, on the other hand, will spend $783 on 24 gifts, which says much about both sexes.

One group will have none of it.

The anti-shopping organization Adbusters (www.adbusters.org) declares tomorrow is "Buy Nothing Day."

It advises avoiding the malls talking to old chums and walking outdoors instead.

"Buy Nothing Day is a simple idea with deep implications. Enjoy a break from the shopping frenzy," said a spokesman. "Relish your power as a consumer to change the economic environment."

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