Nov 20, 2015

Turkeys and Bowling

Late eighteenth and early nineteenth century prizes given out during bowling tournaments were often food items, such as a basket filled with various grocery items, a large ham, etc. Around Thanksgiving in the United States, turkeys became common prizes. At some point, one tournament decided to give away a turkey to people who managed to bowl three strikes in a row. This practice spread and eventually embedded itself in common bowling vernacular, long after giving away actual turkeys stopped.

Back then, bowling three strikes in a row was extremely difficult to do, because they did not have the beautiful lanes we have now. Also, bowling pins were setup by hand and not always uniform, bowling balls were not well balanced, and people running the tournaments would often use tricks to make the pins more difficult to knock down.

Because it is more common to hit three strikes or more in a row today, new names have been developed. Six consecutive strikes is a Wild Turkey and nine consecutive strikes is a Golden Turkey.