Why The Turducken Is One Of The Best Word Plays Of All Time

It’s Thanksgiving time, and while some folks will be piling their plates with turkey and mashed potatoes, we can’t pass on the opportunity to consider a dish named with one of the greatest portmanteaus of all time: the turducken.

Let’s talk turducken

A portmanteau is a blended word that’s made by putting together parts of other words—like motel, made from motor and hotel, or brunch, from breakfast and lunch. So, if you hadn’t guessed already, a turducken is a deboned chicken (or hen) stuffed into a deboned duck, which is then stuffed into a deboned turkey.

If you’ve got a little extra cash to spend, you could also go for the gooducken, which is a goose stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken.

If “only three” meats stuffed together into one dish sounds easy to you, history supports your ambition: a gastronomist in the early 19th century wrote about his rôti sans pareil. This “roast without equal” is a bustard, stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting, and a garden warbler. Excessive much?

Since some of the 17 ingredients are now considered endangered, you can’t exactly add that to your Thanksgiving menu (so there’s no need to disinvite vegetarians yet), but you get the point. Only your imagination limits the number of meats you could stuff into a ballotine.


WATCH: We Asked: The Hardest Words You Have To Explain To Kids


Wild portmanteaus

This isn’t anywhere near the same thing, but turducken reminds us of one of our other favorite animal hybrid words, zedonk. A zedonk, of course, is the offspring of a donkey and a zebra. If you’re curious, there are also ligers, zebrulas, and dzos to consider!

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