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
have the beautiful
lanes we have now.
pins were setup by hand and not always uniform, bowling
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
Six consecutive strikes is a Wild Turkey and nine
consecutive strikes is a Golden Turkey.