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Fork in the Road: Fun food facts for your next festive feast

With holiday season around the corner, spark up your conversation starters
Feel free to use these fast food facts to wow your friends and family at your next festive get-together.

Whoosh—where did that year go!? Hard to believe, but the holly-jolly season is right around the corner, and with it all the incumbent parties, for dinner and otherwise, where sparkling conversation starters, along with social defusers, are as much a requirement as the latest appetizers.

With that in mind, here’s my latest list of fast food (and drink) facts that might serve you well in many a social setting.

But first, a tip of my newsboy cap to Harper’s Magazine, published since 1850, making it the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in North America—one I’ve subscribed to for decades. Rightfully praised by The New York Times as an “unexpectedly excellent magazine” due in part to its wide-reaching range “amid a homogenizing media landscape,” you can’t go wrong giving it—or any number of good publications, including Pique Newsmagazine—to friends and family, near and far.

Nothing like holding a beautiful paper copy of a top publication in your hands as the weather outside grows frightful. No hideous LED light glaring in loved ones’ faces. And no tedious wrapping required on your part. Just pop a note into a holiday card, and the rest will take care of itself, all year long. Including the support of publications you don’t want to see vanish from your cultural landscape.

  • Average per cent of a typical domesticated turkey weight that is breast meat: 70
  • Country that ranks as the biggest per capita consumer of turkey meat worldwide each year: Israel, at 28 lb (12.7 kg) per capita
  • No. 2: Hungary at 19.84 lb (9.02 kg) per capita
  • No. 3: U.S. at 16.55 lb (7.52 kg) per capita
  • Ranking of Canada in turkey consumption: eighth, at 8.8 lb (4 kg) per capita
  • Amount of feed, such as corn or soy, that a domesticated turkey eats to put on a kilogram of weight: 6.6 kg
  • Factor by which pasture-fed turkeys eat more than regular, domesticated turkeys: two
  • Number of different bee species that cranberries, apples and pumpkins rely on for pollination: Thousands
  • Amount of water needed to grow a kilogram of cranberries: About 1,000 to 1,250 litres
  • Average amount of water needed to grow a kilogram of squash: About 333 litres
  • Amount of water a dog needs per day: 50 to 100 ml per kg of body weight, so about 1.25 to 2.5 litres for an average female lab
  • Number of litres of water an average (240-kg) black bear needs per day: about 11
  • Number of litres of water an elephant requires per day: 200
  • Number of litres of water in the average two-seater hot tub: 650
  • Amount of weight an average grizzly bear puts on per day before hibernation: 1.36 kg (three pounds)
  • Number of calories a grizzly needs to eat per day to pack on the required amount of weight for hibernation: 20,000
  • A black bear: 15,000 to 20,000
  • Number of black bears that live around Whistler: 50
  • Value of non-alcoholic drinks market in Canada, including soft drinks, in 2023: About $30 billion
  • Total annual rate of growth for that market: 3.2 per cent
  • Predicted annual growth rate for non-alcoholic beer sales in Canada: 22 to 25 per cent
  • Predicted annual growth rate for regular beer sales in Canada: 6.75 per cent
  • Value of non-alcoholic beer market worldwide in 2022: $30.4 billion
  • Value of non-alcoholic wine market worldwide in 2022: $2 million
  • Estimated age of oldest known proto-wine, which was found in China and made without grapes: 9,000 years
  • Estimated age of the oldest, and supposedly, drinkable liquid wine, which is currently housed in a wine museum in Speyer, Germany: 1,700 years
  • Year of origin of what’s considered the first cocktail, the Sazerac—a blend of cognac or whiskey, absinthe, bitters and sugar—created in New Orleans: The mid-1800s, with some pegging it at 1838
  • Number of candy canes sold each year: 1.76 billion
  • Percentage sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas: 90
  • Weight of world’s biggest candy cane: 318,267.3 kg
  • World record for number of candy canes stuffed in a mouth at once, set by Jim “Mouth” Purol in 2012 in Hollywood: 83
  • Size of world’s biggest gingerbread house, created in Bryan, Texas, in 2013: 18.28 m (60 ft) long, 12.8 m (42 ft) wide and 3.07 m (10.1 ft) tall at the highest point.

Thanks to these good sources: World Population Review; World Wildlife Fund; Naked Scientists; Beco Pets; Yellowstone Bear World; Port Hardy Bear Smart Committee; Bear Smart Whistler;; Food in Canada; The Globe and Mail; Food & Wine; Wikipedia;; Publish0x; Old Time Candy. com;; Guinness World Records.

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who has never set a world record. 

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