Let’s settle an age-old debate: Turkey or ham?

By: Austin Schwartz

Thanksgiving is a time of year in which we gather with our loved ones and take a day to appreciate the good things of life and family. At least that’s what we like to tell ourselves. It’s time to be honest, though, and admit that Thanksgiving is really about gorging on good food and passing out from food comas.

Accepting this simple fact will finally allow us to dissect a debate that has been quietly raging for decades: Which is better: the turkey or the ham?

Turkey is the more traditional centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast. This time of year, cartoon images of turkeys are seen everywhere in all their decorative glory: Young kids partake in the Turkey Tango, and television reruns Thanksgiving episodes where protagonists struggle to acquire dinner turkeys.

Pigs, meanwhile, get no glory, and ham merely functions as a glorified side dish to the beloved turkey.

Thematic significance puts the turkey vs. pig match at 1-0. Can ham win out on the dining table?

Ham is traditionally basted, baked, and most enjoyable when blanketed with pineapples and cherries, enriching the flavor. Turkey has evolved to a new level of preparation. Some stick to the more traditional meal prep, but now there is the ever-so-popular turkey fry. You can find many stories online of folks burning the garage down or starting a backyard fire as they attempt to dunk the fat bird into a large turkey fryer. The pig gets a couple of gold stars for its track record of not ruining the family holiday, but the vote comes down to the flavor.

While ham is rich, juicy, and offers a sweet yet savory explosion on the tongue, it can’t beat that delicious turkey. Ham’s richness can be too intense and begin to lose its luster throughout the meal. The simple but delectable flavor of a moist turkey can always be reliable to shift up the flavors in-between green bean casserole and sweet potatoes.

Before you think this toss-up is up, I must note more often than not, the turkey comes out dry and doesn’t provide that delectable flavor we all love. The ham is a more consistent option, putting the score at 1-1.

I think a third factor can give the underdog some of the recognition it deserves and settle the tied score. This assessment may come off as controversial, but I am a fan of the ham, and I think it’s time he gets some recognition.

The average pig weighs in at 300 to 700 lbs. and stands about 3 feet tall. Pigs also have an intelligence considered to be greater than a dog’s. They have tough skin and strength that allows them to tear through an ordinary fence or pen.

On average, a turkey can weigh about 24 lbs. and stand 3 and a half feet tall. I’ve chosen to use generous statistics on the higher end of data to even up the match. Turkeys aren’t the dumbest creatures in the animal kingdom and possess keen eyesight. They can fly up to 55 mph and can run up to 20 mph.

I don’t think it’s necessary to give a complete breakdown of this match-up. If the combatants were to go toe-to-toe the turkey would be able to outmaneuver the hog for an extended period. Especially since a pig’s top speed is 11 mph. However, in the end, I believe a turkey would get caught or grow over-exhausted before the Hercules of an animal wraps up the labor.

With that, I have solved the debate and it turns out that the ham is the superior dish with a final score of 1-2.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Unsplash