Cost of Thanksgiving turkey hits a record

Cost of Thanksgiving turkey hits a record

You’ll probably pay 20% more than last year, due to rising costs for raising the birds.

Americans will be paying more for their Thanksgiving turkeys this month after rising feed costs led to reduced output in the U.S. Wholesale, frozen turkeys jumped to $1.09 a pound on average yesterday, the highest price ever and up 28 percent from a year earlier, according to Russell Whitman, the vice president of the poultry division at commodity researcher Urner Barry in Toms River, New Jersey.

At the end of September, stockpiles of turkey meat slid 23 percent from a year earlier, government data show. Production will decline 1.3 percent this year to 5.514 billion pounds (2.5 million metric tons), the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Nov. 9. Before today, the price of corn, which makes up about 70 percent of turkey feed, was up 47 percent in the past year.

“The fundamental reason why you’re seeing record-high turkey prices is the fact we’re seeing record-high costs of raising turkeys,” said Tom Elam, president of FarmEcon LLC, an agriculture and food-industry consultant in Carmel, Indiana. “When both stocks are down and production is down, then you get a double hit on the amount available to be consumed.”

Retailers in the U.S. sold whole frozen turkeys for an average of $1.57 a pound in September, up 7.7 percent from a year earlier and the highest level since at least 1980, the Labor Department said on Oct. 15.

Higher Retail Price

While those government statistics don’t capture the holiday discounting by grocers this month, retail prices probably will be up 20 percent from Thanksgiving last year, said FarmEcon’s Elam.

The birds are traditionally the main course for meals on Thanksgiving, an annual holiday that Americans will celebrate on Nov. 25 this year. Stores usually cut prices to spur sales on accompanying items for the holiday dinner including cranberry sauce, green beans or stuffing mix, Elam said. Retail prices, even with specials, will be higher this year, he said.

Last year, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, cut prices on turkeys, selling whole 12-pound (5.4 kilogram) turkeys for 40 cents a pound. That level of pricing probably won’t be around this year, Elam said.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart won’t disclose its turkey pricing until Nov. 17, Melissa Hill, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Some retailers probably are going to lose money because customers still expect discounts, Whitman said.

“Retailers stand the very real possibility of losing more money than last year due to high wholesale prices,” Whitman said. “The consumer has really come to expect low-price turkeys even during the most popular time of year for it.”

Pre-Halloween sales at Black Friday prices

Pre-Halloween sales at Black Friday prices

Thanksgiving is weeks away, but some retailers are dropping prices to entice shoppers.

We’re five weeks away from Black Friday and already major retailers are dropping prices to entice early shoppers into the stores and onto their websites. Amazon has been discounting prices for months and, as a result, its third-quarter sales surged 39 percent. We combed the websites and sale circulars of some major appliance and equipment retailers and found prices cut on some top performers. Some stores are throwing in free delivery and haulaway deals to sweeten the deal.

If you’re a subscriber to ConsumerReports.org, remember that you can access our Ratings and other shopping advice free through your mobile phone. Consumer Reports also just introduced its Mobile Shopper. With this application, available on iTunes for $9.99, shoppers can scan a barcode and access product and pricing information as well as Ratings for CR’s most popular products.

Related Link: Poster shopping at Art Canyon

The haunted history of Halloween

The haunted history of Halloween

The scariest holiday of the year has its roots in Celtic, Catholic, and Roman festivals.

Sunday is Halloween, and the frightfest has trick-or-treaters checking the Web for the history of the haunted holiday. Lookups on “what is the history of Halloween” rose 220% on Yahoo!. Spooky searches for “the haunted history of Halloween” and “the true history of Halloween” were also scary-high. Turns out, the modern-day tradition of outfitting yourself in a costume and going door to door for candy has some really ancient roots.

Originally, the festival came from the Celtic holiday Samhain, which means summer’s end, and celebrated the end of fall and the beginning of winter. This day also marked the Celts’ version of the new year — and the time, they believed, when the dead came back to roam the earth. (Insert spooky music here.)

Ancestors were honored, but evil spirits were warded off by lighting bonfires and wearing costumes to hide from them. Turnips carved with faces got placed in windows to scare off the unwelcome undead. People would go “a-souling,” and in exchange for food and drink, pray for a household’s dead relatives. In Scotland, spirits were impersonated by men wearing all white with veiled faces. Sound familiar?

The holiday is actually a mash of Catholic and Celtic beliefs. Oh, and Roman. Their version of the Celtic holiday was called Feralia, which honored their dead. The Catholics — who were beginning to influence the area by the 800s — contributed All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows or Hallowmas. The name “Halloween” comes from the Scottish “All-Hallows-Even,” meaning “the night before All Hallows Day.”

By the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants brought Halloween to America. By the 1950s, candy makers began promoting their sweet stuff as the currency to give out to trick-or-treaters, and this year it’s estimated to be a $2 billion candy bonanza. The religious ideas have been dropped, and the day as we know it — dressing up, carving pumpkins, and getting a good scare … and goodies — became the holiday it is now.

Why we celebrate Mother’s Day?

Why we celebrate Mother's Day?

Worldwide, more than 46 countries honor mothers with a special day, but not all countries celebrate the same day. We honor the motherboards, candy, flowers and dinner. But have you ever thought about how it became a holiday in the U.S.?

Mother’s Day was suggested in the United States by Julia Ward Howe, author of Battle Hymn of the Republic. She suggested that this day is dedicated to peace. Miss Howe organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston every year.

In 1877, Mrs. Juliet Calhoun Blakely inadvertently Mother’s Day in motion. On Sunday, May 11, 1877, which was the anniversary of Ms. Blakely, the pastor of his Methodist Episcopal Church left the pulpit abruptly, shocked by the behavior of his son. Ms. Blakely approached the pulpit to take care of the rest of the service and called for other mothers to join her.

Mrs. Blakely had two son was so touched by her gesture that they are committed to return to their hometown of Albion, Michigan every year to mark the anniversary of their mother and to honor her. In addition, the two brothers involved in business and urged those they met during a trip as salesman to honor their mothers on the second Sunday in May They also urged the Methodist Episcopal Church in Albion set aside the second Sunday of each May to honor all mothers, especially their own.

While there were local celebrations honoring mothers in the late 1800s, recognition of Mother’s Day as a national holiday in the United States has been largely through the efforts of Anna Jarvis. Anna’s mother, Mrs. Anna M. Jarvis, had played a role in developing “Mothers Friendship Day” which was part of the healing process of the civil war. In honor of his mother, Miss Jarvis wanted to reserve a day to honor all mothers, living and dead.

In 1907, Miss Anna began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. She persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day the second anniversary of the death of his mother, the second Sunday in May The following year, Mother’s Day was celebrated in his hometown of Philadelphia.

Miss Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, evangelists, businessmen and politicians in their crusade to establish a national Mother’s Day. This campaign was a success. In 1911, Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state in the Union. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday to be held annually the second Sunday in May.

The crusade of a woman Anna Jarvis is often overlooked in history books because women during the 1900s have been involved in many other reform efforts, but it is likely that these other reforms have helped pave the way for Anna Jarvis to succeed in his campaign for Mother’s Day.