Courtesy Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm
Turkey is still a crowd favorite for Thanksgiving, according to New Haven local businesses and Connecticut turkey farms.
According to the National Turkey Federation, 88 percent of Americans surveyed reported eating turkey on Thanksgiving in 2015. Based on reports from turkey farms and grocery stores in the area, turkey has also retained its popularity within New Haven and Connecticut.
“People are always going to eat turkey for Thanksgiving,” Bill Gozzi, owner of Gozzi’s Turkey Farms in Guilford, said.
Gozzi’s Turkey Farms, located right outside of New Haven, sells approximately 15,000 turkeys during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. However, Gozzi said most of those turkeys are purchased for Thanksgiving.
Though Gozzi is currently selling turkeys at the same rate as past years, he observed that people are making orders closer to Thanksgiving Day, which he attributed to good weather and to Thanksgiving falling a week earlier this year.
“Everything is geared towards Thanksgiving here,” said Gozzi.
Gozzi’s business, which sells turkeys on site as well as distributes turkeys to 20 small markets throughout the state, is a 76-year-old family company started by Gozzi’s grandparents in 1940. The farm has been featured in The New York Times and on the Today Show for its colorfully dyed turkeys. The colorful turkeys are meant as a tourist attraction and are therefore not sold during Thanksgiving, according to the Today Show.
Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm is also a family-owned turkey business based in Moosup, Connecticut. Though the company sells a majority of its turkeys on site, it also makes sales to over a dozen small farm shops, farmers markets and butchers shops throughout the state, as well as to Connecticut Farm Fresh Express, an online farmers market that delivers fresh produce directly to people’s houses throughout Connecticut, including New Haven.
Katie Hermonot, daughter of Ekonk Hill’s owner, said people come from all over the state, including New Haven, to pick up a turkey for Thanksgiving. Customers especially appreciate that the farm has a poultry-processing facility on site, Hermonot said.
“It puts less stress on the bird,” she explained.
The business, which processes a few turkeys a day, raises between 3,300 and 3,500 turkeys each year and sells about 2,400 of those turkeys for Thanksgiving alone. Hermonot said that since the company’s start, the business has doubled in size every year. Though the company is limited in the amount of turkey it can process every Thanksgiving, Hermonot said she is satisfied because they have “pretty happy turkeys.”
In regards to the rate of turkey consumption compared to previous years, Hermonot said she believes the number has remained constant.
“The turkey is the icon of the Thanksgiving meal, so I don’t see that changing,” Hermonot said.
With just under a week until Thanksgiving, grocery stores have just begun making turkey sales, according to Ferraro’s Market store manager Al Lauro. He added that, in general, not enough people had started buying ingredients for Thanksgiving at this time to discuss any trends in sales.
However, he noted that throughout the years, fresh turkeys become more popular than frozen turkeys. And despite it being early in the Thanksgiving shopping period, Lauro still predicted that this year’s turkey consumption would not deviate significantly from that of prior years.
“Thanksgiving is so traditional with the turkey that you really don’t see a change,” Lauro said.
George Washington declared the first nationwide American Thanksgiving in 1789.