November 21, 2014

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand

FRANKFORT – While the Fourth of July is understandably the most American holiday, Thanksgiving can at least lay claim to being the first.

Its origin, as even our youngest students can tell us, began long before our independence, and we’re now just seven years away from the 400th anniversary of when the Pilgrims and Native Americans held a three-day feast.

President Washington began to solidify the holiday’s place on the calendar when he called for a day of Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, 1789. President Lincoln went a step further by declaring it should always fall on the fourth Thursday of the month, where it remains today.

Legend has it that President Lincoln also started another tradition: giving a presidential pardon to the turkey intended for the family in the White House. He supposedly took this step at the request of his young son, but it was never considered a pardon. The practice as we know it today didn’t really come about until the late 1980s.

A little more than century ago, a turkey from Kentucky did compete for the central spot on the menu at the White House.

That might not seem special at first, but it was going up against a bird provided by a Rhode Island poultry supplier who had been regularly giving the First Family Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys for decades.

Kentucky’s contribution came from a former congressman and Speaker of the Kentucky House who at the time was serving as Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the White House Historical Association, it’s not known which bird held the place of honor at the dinner table that year. The competition did mark an end of the era, though, since the poultry supplier passed away the following month.

Because Thanksgiving is synonymous with good food, it’s worth noting that Kentucky has made other lasting contributions in this area.

Duncan Hines, for example, may be best remembered for the cake mixes that bear his name, but this Bowling Green native first became famous for his traveling restaurant reviews nearly eight decades ago.

A few years after he and his wife began compiling these reviews, they visited a Corbin restaurant known as Sanders Court and Café, the birthplace of what became KFC. Hines called it “a very good place to stop en route to Cumberland Falls and the Great Smokies,” but, interestingly, he listed the restaurant’s fried chicken second, after its “sizzling steaks.”

If you’re looking for a good meal outside of the home this Thanksgiving, our state resort parks will again feature a buffet from noon to 8 p.m. The cost for adults is $18.49, while children six to 12 will be charged $8.49. The cost includes a beverage but not tax, and young children eat for free.

One of the things for which we can be thankful is that the cost of the traditional Thanksgiving meal has gotten cheaper when adjusted for inflation. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the actual cost is approaching $50, but an apples-to-apples comparison with what families paid in the mid-1980s shows that it actually is down several dollars, a testament to the advances we have seen in farming.

As a nation, we have weathered our share of difficult times, but we still have far more going for us than against us. My hope is that this can be said of your family as well as you gather around the table this week and then ready for another holiday season.

From my family to yours, we want to wish you a happy Thanksgiving and pray that the wishbone breaks in your favor.

Paid for by Rick Rand for State Representative, Regina Rand, Treasurer