The Holidays: Brought to You by Trucks

An outline of the Empire State building with a fuel pump attached to it.
38 billion gallons of diesel fuel is enough to fill the Empire State Building 137 times.
The trucking industry is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Over 80% of all the freight tonnage moved in the United States goes on trucks. Without the industry and our truck drivers, the economy would come to a standstill. To move 10.4 billion tons of freight annually requires over 3.6 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks, and over 3.5 million truck drivers. It also takes over 38 billion gallons of diesel fuel.

The holiday season in our country is a time of togetherness and celebration; eating, drinking, and gifting as only we Americans can. Consequently, the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s variously accounts for a large percentage of our overall freight transport. Here are some fun figures we dug up:

Americans are Turkey-eating Fools

Americans consume some 51 million turkeys every Thanksgiving (that’s 16,600 truckloads of turkeys). Additionally, another 22 million are consumed on Christmas, and 19 million more on Easter.

We Can’t Get Enough Cranberries

Every holiday season, we crush over 80 million pounds of cranberries, including 5 million gallons of jellied cranberry sauce.

We’re Also Sweet on Sweet Potatoes

All those candied yams and sweet potato pies pack a staggering combined total of 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes.

No Problem Smashing Pumpkins

Not satisfied with merely applying pumpkin spice to anything that’ll sit still for it, Americans still require approximately 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins for Pumpkin Pie.

Big Time Big Rig Trucking

All total, nearly 80,000 tractor trailer trucks are required to ship this Thanksgiving bounty. That number rises when any extras or non-traditional dinner items are factored into the equation.

Putting the Float in the Floats

The trucking industry’s impact on the Thanksgiving holiday goes beyond bringing the phenomenal feast. For instance, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade uses a lot of helium, and it’s delivered by trucks, too. This year’s parade featured 15 giant balloons which, in total, required a whopping 300,000 cubic feet of helium to stay aloft. That’s roughly the same volume as 2.2 million gallon jugs of milk.

$656 billion, in one dollar bills, would cover a two-lane highway from the Earth to the Moon.

Black, Like the Hole in my Bank Account

Over 137 million people turn out for Black Friday deals. Total spending for 2016 topped $656 billion, and early returns for 2017 indicate that a record-breaking $7.9 billion was spent online alone between Thanksgiving day and Black Friday (up to $1 million per minute at one point). In fact, 30% of all annual retail sales take place between Black Friday and Christmas. Keeping in mind that trucks are delivering 80% of everything in the U.S., that’s more than a truckload of stuff.

Pining for Christmas Trees

Over 30 million live trees are harvested for Christmas. 99.3% of those are transported by semi truck, and over 80% transported out of the region they were harvested in. Additionally, over 18 million fake trees will be sold this year. All in all, a tall order, but a mere fraction of the total holiday season freight transportation.

We’re Exceptionally Gifted

Over 1.5 billion Christmas gifts will be shipped via mail and private carriers, as well as over 16 billion Christmas cards. It’s further estimated that more than 1.7 billion candy canes, 150 million sets of lights, 7.1 million poinsettias are shipped in America each year.

7 million letters to Santa weigh about as much as a humpback whale!

Cookies and Milk Well Earned

Over 7 million letters are shipped to Santa each year. Crunching the numbers, this would be a stack of paper nearly a half a mile high, and weighing 70,000 pounds!

Requiring a Lamp Shade the Size of Rhode Island

Because no year is complete without the perfunctory toast, roughly 6.4 million cases of champagne are shipped in the United States every holiday season.

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