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Jef Goodger

XXX - Turkey

By December 16, 2009

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This is the third in a series of blogs to once and for all establish the proper names for x number of strikes in a row. These terms come from my (and my bowling associates') personal bowling vernacular, and you may have differing opinions. Still, strings of strikes need names, and if we're all going to agree on a set of names, we might as well agree on mine.

Turkey is probably the most well-known bowling term among the general population. Recreational bowlers who might bowl once a year know what a turkey is and strive for it, usually because the scoring system puts some sort of turkey animation on the screen for them. But why is it called a turkey?

Origin

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, bowling proprietors used to present live turkeys to bowlers who threw three consecutive strikes around Thanksgiving or Christmas time. That's true.

Throwing three consecutive strikes was much harder then, but resulted in an actual pet and/or food. I don't know how many people enjoyed collecting pet turkeys, but I suppose there's a chance. Today, we get cheesy animations.

Current Use

Same as always. Three strikes is a turkey, although you'll sometimes hear three consecutive strikes referred to as a three-bagger, but in order to avoid yet another rant from me on why "bagger" isn't a suffix, we'll just leave it at this: three strikes in a row is a turkey.

Incidentally, does anyone still give out real turkeys? Not that I've experienced. Especially not live turkeys.

When throwing a turkey, some obnoxious bowlers will actually imitate a turkey. Gobbling abound. It's also appropriate to shout "X gets the square," once again referring back to the Hollywood Squares theme, but that's stretching it, as the Hollywood Squares theme should be clinging to life at this point.

Simpler, more subtle ways to celebrate a turkey are to calmly say "Turkey" or simply raise three fingers with confidence, similar to what you may have done after your double.

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