It all began in November of 1990 when our son
Adam, then a bachelor, received a kosher 14 pound turkey from his boss for
Thanksgiving. As any young man would do he placed it in the freezer and sometime
during the month of October in 1991 he called his mom to ask, “Mom, do you
remember my boss giving me a turkey last November? Well, I’d like to get your
recipe for cooking it for Thanksgiving.” Arlene replied with “Tutsala, the
turkey is a year old; if you eat it they’ll bury you with the turkey. Don’t cook
it—throw it out”. So instead he decided to return it to the freezer. He thought
to himself, “What can I do with a year old turkey?” It was at that magical
moment that he decided he’d give the bird a party. Why not, it only makes sense
to throw a party in celebration of its first birthday. The kosher turkey had
become a member of the “frozen chosen”; he named him Tom. Adam later told me in
private that he felt badly that the turkey did not have a bris but he said Tom
would have a Bar Mitzvah when the turkey turned thirteen. In December of 1991 the
first “Tom the Turkey” birthday party was held in East Meadow, New York and a
new tradition for having a party was started.
What I find interesting is that attendance increased over the years. The party
moved to Tampa Florida when Adam did. Each year there was a party theme and
special dress and costuming would be required for attendance. Many times more
than a hundred people would come. Why not! It became an opportunity for good
friends to get together once a year, without having to bring a gift, to
celebrate a party for a turkey. For over 20 years friends would gather from all
over the USA to pay homage to the bird. Someone once brought a frozen duck to
the party as a potential match for Tom but they were not compatible. If it had
worked out our family was willing to purchase a new larger freezer.
At Adam and Nikole’s wedding the turkey was dressed in a tuxedo and was the
honorary ring bearer. He too refused to do the chicken dance.
Tom’s tenth birthday party called for a formal affair. Tom wore his well- ironed
tuxedo and movies were shown of Tom, Adam and his wife Nikole at the playground.
He was placed on the children’s swings and spent time on the slide and then
returned to the freezer to await the reception in the evening.
Nikole, Arlene, Adam, Lewis,
Mel and Tom in a tuxedo
I had left the party to cool off near the outdoor pool when I heard a guest ask
one of the waiters if there was a wedding at the hotel since he’d seen so many
couples formally dressed. “It’s a party for a frozen turkey, he’s ten years
old,” was his reply. The guest had a puzzled look upon his face as he listened
to the answer. He shrugged his shoulders. The waiter looked at him and also
repeated the same gesture.
In 2010 our son and his wife announced that the December party would be Tom’s
last. He was going to go out as Viking warrior. He was placed on a raft in the
lake on their property and the raft was lit on fire as a hundred people toasted a true
A turkey farmer bred a turkey with six legs, so a local newspaper reporter was
sent to interview the farmer. “How does a six legged turkey taste”, asked the
reporter. The farmer responded by saying, “I wish I knew. I can’t catch him”. Ba
If you’d like to learn more about Tom the turkey and see photos of the parties
be our guest. I
am not responsible for the content.
Have a happy Purim and eat kosher,
Mel (the fat guy)