Turkey bowling

Miss Ohio 2006 bowls a turkey in Willowick, Ohio
For the term "turkey" in the general sport of bowling, see Strike (bowling) § Consecutive strikes.

Turkey bowling is a sport which is based on ordinary bowling: a frozen turkey serves as a bowling ball and 10 plastic bottles of soft drinks or water are the bowling pins. The turkey is bowled down a smooth surface, for example, ice or a soap covered sheet of painters plastic (using a bar of soap).[1] It is commonly associated with Thanksgiving.[2] [3]

Turkey bowling is popular in minor league ice hockey in the United States and Canada.[1]

The original variant involves turkey bowling in an aisle of a grocery store. A Derrick Johnson claims to have invented turkey bowling in 1988 when he worked as a grocery clerk at a Newport Beach Lucky's branch, while observing a manager slide a frozen turkey across the floor and accidentally topple a soda bottle.[4]

Derrick became a self-appointed commissioner of the "Poultry Bowlers Association" and codified the rules and terminology, such as "the fowl line" (cf. "foul line"), "the gobbler" (three strikes in a row; cf. turkey (bowling)), "the Butterball" (a gutterball) and "the wishbone" (a 7-10 split).[4]

Notable occurrences

Turkey bowling was featured in the 1995 novel Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore, where it was the favorite sport of "The Animals", a wild group of night grocery stockers (continued in the sequels You Suck: A Love Story[5] and Bite Me).

Episode 14 of 10 Items or Less TV series was "Turkey Bowling".[6]

Every Thanksgiving morning, Cleveland's Fox affiliate WJW-TV does its annual Turkey Bowl from a Giant Eagle store in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area. The WJW version of turkey bowling uses 15 cans of canned cranberry sauce, stacked in a pyramid shape, and uses a one-bowl-per-round knockout tournament format. In the 2010 edition it was hosted by morning features and man about town reporter Kenny Crumpton and morning meteorologist Angelica Campos. In WJW-TV's version people win prizes anything ranging from Giant Eagle Gift Cards to monetary prizes. The contest is broadcast on WJW live and streamed around the world on WJW's Web site, with the contests taking up the full closing segment (around 7 minutes) of each half-hour of WJW's morning newscast. The broadcast began in 1999.


Animal rights proponents, who oppose the use of animals in sports, claim that turkey bowling is disrespectful to animals and sends mixed messages which may encourage violence to animals or people.[7] Another objection is perceived disrespect to the central attribute of Thanksgiving.[7] Animal sanctuaries have rescued live turkeys from turkey bowling events.[8] In 2003, an upcoming event for the title of UK Great Turkey Bowling Champion at Manchester Evening News Arena was protested against by animal rights campaigners. As a result, plastic turkeys were used instead of real ones.[1]


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