At America's first Thanksgiving, if you looked around the table you could be sure that someone there caught the bird, someone killed the bird and someone cooked the bird.
But today, it seems that all we can be sure of is that someone--and all their friends and family--is going to eat the bird. More than ever, Americans are gracing their Thanksgiving tables with feasts prepared by, and purchased from, nearby restaurants or grocery stores.
Establishments report a steady increase in appetite for the take-out turkey meal with all the trimmings . . . and none of the early morning fuss. While businesses report a range of consumer interest, one Bristol Farms store said its Thanksgiving day prepared-meal sales have jumped 62% in the last three years.
"The traditionalist might say you are cutting corners," said Louis Fajardo, store director at Bristol Farms in South Pasadena. "You actually are, but it's a great deal."
Bristol Farms, like most, charges by the pound for its prepared turkeys. (That would be $3.99; side dishes are extra.) Other places sell complete meals for a fixed price. Zov's Bistro in Tustin, for instance, sells a spread that serves between 12 and 14 for $295.
And if Americans aren't buying the entire meal out, a good helping is getting at least part of the holiday meal from someone else's kitchen. According to the National Restaurant Assn., a little more than one-third purchase at least one item from a restaurant.
"People are just so busy now, and cooking a Thanksgiving dinner is a big ordeal," said Armen Karamardian, whose family owns Zov's Bistro. "The common denominator is that it's so convenient."
So, remember to give thanks for convenience this Thursday . . . or at least have someone else do it for you.