How far could a Tesla Model 3 drive on all of the electricity used to cook Thanksgiving turkeys in America?

November 27th, 2019 by

When Americans gather in their kitchens this Thanksgiving in an effort to turn out a suitable feast for the day, the last thing most of them will consider is how much electricity they’re using to cook their turkeys.

Understandable, given that electricity is cheap and, at a household level, not very much is used. The numbers only get silly when you figure that tens of millions of turkeys are being cooked.

According to the National Turkey Federation, a national trade organization representing the American turkey industry, approximately 46 million birds are consumed each year on Thanksgiving.

And according to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, an entirely separate trade organization representing the Minnesotan turkey industry, the average Thanksgiving turkey weighs 15 pounds.

Some simple math with the above numbers tells us that Americans cook up approximately 690 million pounds of Turkey every Thanksgiving. It’s going to take a lot of energy to heat 690 million pounds of meat from refrigerator-cold to an FDA-recommended 165 degrees.

Electric v Gas Applicances

Since it’s impossible to know exactly how each of the 46 million turkeys will be cooked, we’re going to assume that everyone is roasting their turkeys. It’s the classic method, after all. Additionally, we are only going to count the electricity used by the 63% of Americans who use electric kitchen appliances (U.S. Energy Information Administration) – so the following numbers only count electricity pulled from the power lines at your home. Gas-burning appliances (combustion, ew) are not included.

That leaves us with 28.29 million turkeys being roasted in an electric oven this Thanksgiving.

I’m not a chef, but some cursory Googling suggested between 3.5 and 4.5 hours to cook a 15-pound bird, depending on whether or not it’s been stuffed. We’ll split the difference and assume four hours in the oven per turkey.

An electric oven uses about 2.3 kWh of electricity per hour (Silicon Valley Power), meaning it takes about 9.2 kWh of electricity to cook each of our turkeys for four total hours.

Turkey Cooking Electricity Math

When you add all of these numbers in a pot, mix them up, and let simmer for 10 minutes, we arrive at the conclusion that Americans use over 260 million kWh of electricity collectively to cook their Thanksgiving Day turkeys.

It’s rather difficult to repetitively write, read, and refer to the “nationwide-Thanksgiving-turkey-cooking-equivalent” energy supply, so we’re going to invent a new unit to make things easier.

260,268,000 kWh = one National Gobble of electricity. 

One National Gobble is enough electricity to charge 3.47 million long range Tesla Model 3s. Or to charge an individual Model 3 Long Range 3.47 million times.

Cook Turkeys or Charge Teslas

That’s enough power for over 1 billion miles of electric driving.

Just how far is that?

With one National Gobble, a Tesla Model 3 Long Range could:

1. Drive around the earth at the equator 44,654 times.

2. Travel to the Moon and back 2,251 times.

3. Travel to Mars and back 29 times (at closest approach).

Let’s pretend that advances in road construction technology has allowed for the construction of floating, pressurized, artificial-gravity highways that made the aforementioned trips possible.

It would take you 1,754 years of continuous driving at 70 mph to complete a trip and exhaust the National Gobble – and that’s only if you manage to keep your cruising speed up by beating rush hour traffic to the SpaceX colony on Mars.

Model 3 Driving to Mars

On the other hand, it wouldn’t take nearly that long for 3.47 million individual Model 3s to use up a National Gobble in the hands of American drivers.

Americans on average drive 31.5 miles per day (AAA). If each of those Model 3s drove that distance per day, it would take less than 10 days to equal one National Gobble.  

Tesla hasn’t even come to close to building 3.47 million cars though – their cumulative lifetime production is estimated to be around 816,155 vehicles as of Q3 2019.

Tesla Fleet Charging Math

Assuming all of their electric vehicles were as efficient as our Tesla Model 3 Long Range (they’re not, but let’s not complicate this further), one National Gobble would be enough to fully charge the entire Tesla fleet about four times – providing enough electricity for about 41 days of driving.

Spread out across all Teslas ever built, the National Gobble only provides electricity for each car to travel about 1,318 miles – which isn’t enough to get anywhere nearly as exciting as Mars.

Mars Sign

Happy Thanksgiving!