Tweets with the word “nap” apparently peak around 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

By Mike Pomranz
November 20, 2018
Mikkel Vang

Granted, I haven’t eaten Thanksgiving dinner at every single house across America (in part because the vast majority of you haven’t invited me yet), but I think it’s safe to say that most people eat their Thanksgiving dinner earlier than a regular dinner. A 2013 YouGov/Huffington Post poll found that 35 percent of respondents started eating dinner between noon and 3 p.m. and 39 percent started between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Meanwhile, just 6 percent got things going after 6 p.m., and an extremely impatient 5 percent began their feast before noon. (The remaining 15 percent said they didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving at all.)

Of course, asking people what their average Thanksgiving Day schedule looks like is one way to gather data: There are other ways too. Spying is a bit aggressive, but Twitter has the next best thing: analyzing people’s tweets. The social media giant broke down when certain words peaked on their network during turkey day…and the results reveal a very early timeline.

The word “turkey” spiked well before noon: the 11 a.m. hour to be precise. Ostensibly that happened right after the turkeys were going into the oven because Twitter says words and phrases like “time to eat” and “dinnertime” spiked three hours later at 2 p.m.

Interestingly, though eating time was mostly around 2 p.m., “thankful” peaked early as well—at noon—potentially around the time people were diving into their first drink? Another odd Twitter peak time was the word “pie” which the social media site says, like dinner, also peaked around 2 p.m. Though who hasn’t started thinking about dessert as soon as they sit down for dinner?

Finally, the end of the meal settles in. The word “nap” once again struck early, peaking during the 4 p.m. hour, though after a full NFL game, most people are ready for sleep. Lastly, Twitter says the peak time for words like “stomach ache” and “over eating” took place around 8 p.m.—which, though later that the rest of timeline, also makes sense: If you’re still eating six hours after most people are proclaiming “time to eat” you’re not going to feel so well.

But here’s one last rub which may make you rethink the times you saw above: Twitter says that all the times are in Eastern Time and have not been adjusted for individual tweeters' local time zone. Though Twitter wasn’t able to tease the data apart for us, in general, you’d think that this would shift the frame a bit later than expect since people in the later time zones would be playing catch up. Or maybe Americans are eating even earlier than this data suggests? Until we get back to doing some good old fashioned spying, I guess the world will never know.

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