By The Numbers: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday rooted in tradition - but is pop culture changing traditions?

Think to yourself for a moment and imagine your perfect Thanksgiving… According to this chart, it's extremely likely you thought about at least one of these three things:

  1. Your family & friends

  2. Eating

  3. Football

In the general population, these are the key items for celebrating Thanksgiving, and they coincide with our culture’s stereotype of the holiday. These selections are about equal down gender lines, save for football (four times more likely to be enjoyed by men), and family time (1.5 times more likely to be enjoyed by women.)

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What you may have found interesting, however, is the under 4% score of watching the parade, or the 1% score of “Blackout Wednesday” (aka Thanksgiving Eve), that was voted on so little it barely shows as a piece of the pie. For as grand as the parade is, its share of the “favorite activity” pie only hovers around 3-4% across every demographic. As for Blackout Wednesday? The drinking tradition didn’t score well across any age-group, but was most often selected by people aged 25-34.


A few other “Favorite Activity” notes & numbers:

  • Spending time with family & friends gains 5 percentage points from age group 18-24 to 25-34, then again to age group 35-44

  • Eating loses ground as the favorite Thanksgiving activity at the same rate (5 percentage points) over the same age groups, until it finally levels off around 19% for ages 45 and older.


Choosing the Menu

Turkey is still the star of the holiday, climbing in popularity as age goes up, and peaking in popularity at the 45-55 and 56-64 segments (41% each, respectively).

The “fixings” tend to fall in line as one would expect (Popularity, most to least):

1. Turkey

2. Stuffing

3. Mashed Potatoes

4. Sweet Potatoes

5. Pumpkin Pie

6. Green Bean Casserole

While “other” less common options fill in the bottom of the list with 2-to-4% showings.

Perhaps the most notable observation in the food category is Green Bean Casserole, which experiences a pretty volatile life cycle in popularity by age. Check out the chart here:

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Friendsgiving: Losing ground with age

Friendsgiving - a Thanksgiving meal or celebration that is comprised of a group of friends. Whether these events are in addition to one’s familial Thanksgiving, or is their primary meal, was not considered. Our findings show that while Friendsgiving is a young person’s tradition, it still hasn’t moved into the popular majority. The most likely age group to partake in a Friendsgiving is 18-24 (44%), followed closely by 25-34 (41%), and then a steep drop-off happens at 35+, with only 30% ever having participated. This coincides with the pop-culture idea of Friendsgiving: Young people who are away from family (College or different cities for entry-level jobs) celebrate the holiday with friends, and as they put down roots, Thanksgiving reverts to a family-centric holiday. Here are a few Friendsgiving snippets:

  • An affluent tradition: Participation stays around ~15-20%, until household income climbs above $100K - at which point, participation jumps up to 32%, then 40% for households over $150K, and then majority-participation of 57% for households over $200k.

  • The Friend holiday is most popular among these ethnicities: Native Americans (44%), Asians (40%), and Pacific Islanders (50%). It’s least popular among African-Americans (16%) and Caucasians (24%)


Changing of the guard: Shopping days

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The chart above shows the shopping plans of the ~1000 18+ US citizens we interviewed. As you can see, the trends are mostly similar, but the new-age Cyber Monday has taken over the sheer volume of participants, as well as people that have committed to shopping events. It appears that the push back against Black Friday may be gaining ground, with 5% more people willing to outright say they will not participate in the Black Friday frenzy. Unshockingly, people with children in their households are 2X more likely to shop on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and they are most popular among those of Asian-descent.


Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: Enduring entertainment

ABC seasonally broadcasts each holiday-related Peanuts short film for millions of Americans. Thanksgiving is no different, so we thought it would be appropriate to check the pulse of the animated special, and to see if it still resonates with its viewers.

  • Understanding the lesson: 93% of people believe Charlie Brown made his best effort. While some may be shocked that anyone sided with Peppermint Patty, 7% of the survey population still did. Despite the percentage still being small, those that were more likely to side with Peppermint Patty were 18-24 year olds (12%), and individuals that were Single & Never Married (10%).

  • Native Americans (91%), Caucasians (85%), African-Americans (82%) are the ethnicities most-familiar with A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, While Asians (63%) and Pacific Islanders (67%) are least familiar.

  • 25-34 year olds are the least familiar with the “A Charlie Brown…”, with only 78% reporting having seen it; even less than their younger 18-24 counterparts, that checked in 6 percentage points higher at 84% having seen the show. 45-54 year olds are most familiar with Charlie Brown, showing that 91% of their population have seen the special.

  • Finally, with all of the lessons and hijinks in the show, we figured everyone would have their own favorite part - here’s how they broke down, in descending order from most to least popular:

    1. Snoopy & Woodstock’s Dinner: 59%

    2. The Popcorn, Toast, and Jelly Beans: 14%

    3. “The Mayflower Voyagers”: 13% (We were shocked to see it score so high!)

    4. Peppermint Patty’s Persistence: 11%

    5. And “Other” moments scored 3%


We collected a great array of data across public opinion on Thanksgiving, and while there were a few oddities that created talking points, “Turkey Day” stands true to form. The Fall Classic provides a great kickoff to the holiday season, where families, food and shopping for gifts are at the top of everyone’s mind. Oh, and Charlie Brown did his best!