All Hail the Late-Night Turkey Fix: 8 in 10 Americans Say Leftovers are the Best Thing about Hosting Thanksgiving

Four in ten Americans look forward to the turkey over anything else on the Thanksgiving table

Nov 18, 2015, 05:05 ET from The Harris Poll

NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Family, friends, food, and a few days off work... what's not to love? With Halloween officially over, Thanksgiving season is nearly upon us. Whether you're cooking the food or simply enjoying the feast, Thanksgiving meals undoubtedly offer something for everyone. But for some, it's what comes after the meal that really strikes their fancy. Nearly eight in ten (79%) U.S. adults agree having a fridge full of leftovers is the best thing about hosting Thanksgiving. This could also explain why seven in ten (71%) disagree with the notion that they'd rather eat in a restaurant than cook Thanksgiving dinner.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,225 U.S. adults surveyed online between October 14 and 19, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

What's the star of the traditional table?
The turkey (39%) rules the roost when Americans vote on which traditional dish they most look forward to at Thanksgiving, followed by stuffing (23%) and pumpkin pie (12%). Farther down the line, Americans also look forward to mashed potatoes (9%), sweet potatoes (6%), and cranberry sauce (3%). Generation and gender appear to play a role in picking favorites:

  • While the turkey reigns supreme among all, Millennials are less likely than all other generations to say it's what they most look forward to (30% vs. 39% Gen Xers, 46% Baby Boomers, and 45% Matures). However, they're more likely – along with Gen Xers – to say they're looking forward to the mashed potatoes (16% & 10% vs. 5% Baby Boomers & 2% Matures).
  • Women are more likely than men to show a penchant for pumpkin pie (15% vs. 9%).

Not-so-traditional feasting
While turkey may be the most anticipated dish, it doesn't necessarily mean feasters aren't open to trying something new with their bird. When asked about several alternatives to a traditional roasted turkey, half of Americans show an interest in giving grilled turkey (52%) or deep fried turkey (49%) a try, with an additional one in ten saying they've already tried a deep fried bird or will be giving it a go this year.

Nearly three in ten (28%) are interested in trying a turducken (a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, for the uninitiated) at their Thanksgiving dinner. And despite all the turkey lovers out there, one quarter (25%) say they'd be interested in skipping the turkey completely.

When it comes to the other dishes on the table, one-fifth (20%) of Americans say their Thanksgiving meals will include at least one gluten-free "fix" for a traditional item. Among those planning a gluten-free fix, the most common substitutions are rolls/bread (61%), gravy (58%), stuffing (53%), and pies/desserts (36%). Fewer, but still a notable number, are planning to sub gluten-free casseroles (36%).

So why exactly are so many planning for gluten-free options? While 72% have a reason for taking such action – most prominently that someone at the meal has been diagnosed with celiac disease (27%) or gluten sensitivity (26%) – nearly three in ten (28%) say there's no specific reason.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between October 14 and 19, 2015 among 2,225 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #72, November 18, 2015
By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®
Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, please visit our new website,

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SOURCE The Harris Poll