As a kid, there was nothing I enjoyed hearing more on the cusp of a holiday than "Hey, kids! Let's learn something about (fill in the holiday)!" Really? I'm off of school for a few days! I'm not supposed to be learning things! Is this some sort of trick?

With that in mind, I'll try not to bore you with the same old bits of Thanksgiving lore you can find on a million radio station websites.

For instance, did you know that the pumpkin pies being enjoyed across the nation more than likely have their origins right here in the Land of Lincoln? It's true.

An Illinois farm likely grew both your Halloween pumpkin (known in the industry as ornamental) and the prime ingredient in your Thanksgiving pie (called processing pumpkins). When it comes to pumpkin production, Illinois smashes the competition. Prairie State farmers grow more ornamental and canning-type pumpkins than any other state. In fact, Illinois produced more than twice as many pumpkins in 2012 as second-ranked to California.

As for the cranberries on the table, Illinois does have a couple of commercial cranberry bogs, but the lion's share of cranberries that will be consumed at Thanksgiving and Christmas come from Wisconsin, where 57% of the nation's cranberries are produced.

When we come to the main event, the Thanksgiving Day turkey, Illinois produces about 3 million turkeys annually, which is dwarfed by the nation's leading producer of turkeys, Minnesota. Minnesota provides the US with nearly 50 million turkeys each year.

Today, it's pretty easy to get yourself exactly the size turkey you want for your feast, but here in Illinois, as Kevin Hoffman points out at Reboot Illinois, it wasn't always this way:

Turkeys are plentiful in the Land of Lincoln, but it wasn’t always that way. Unregulated hunted during the 19th century led the state legislature in 1903 to outlaw wild turkey hunting, albeit a little too late. By 1910, there were none left. However, thanks to conservation and recolonization efforts over the past 50 years, the woodlands of southern Illinois are teeming with wild turkeys, and the state’s farmers produce millions each year.

Want to learn a bit more? Of course you do.

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