I love Thanksgiving, and I’m always excited to find a turkey with a wishbone. But every year, my family ends up confused about what exactly the wishbone is, how it works, and why turkeys even have them in the first place. So today I’m going to answer all your questions about this tasty little bone!
Wishbones are thought to have originated centuries ago through a tradition known as “merrythought,” where two people would break the bone of an animal in half and make a wish, keeping the bigger part.
A wishbone is the two sections of a bird’s ulna, that are found in turkeys, chickens and other birds. Wishbones are thought to have originated centuries ago through a tradition known as “merrythought,” where two people would break the bone of an animal in half and make a wish. The holder with the larger piece would then keep their share for good luck.
Wishbones are found in turkeys, chickens and other birds but not in all animals; only those with relatively high bone density have them since they require more calcium than most other bones.
They’re located between the neck and breastbone on the upper part of the breast meat.
The wishbone is located on the upper part of the breast meat.
To find it, start by feeling around your turkey’s neck. You’ll notice that there’s a series of bumps where the wishbone connects to the breastbone. The wishbone itself should feel like an oval shape—it’s not hard to spot!
Wishbones are often confused with collar bones because they’re both almost identical in shape.
Wishbones are often confused with collar bones because they’re both almost identical in shape. They lie on the turkey’s breast and are made of the same bone; this is called the breastbone. Like the wishbone, collar bones also bend in half easily and can be used as a musical instrument. But unlike wishbones, they don’t have any special significance or superstitions attached to them.
This is because wishbones aren’t really bones at all—they’re cartilage! And while they don’t have any magical powers (that we know of), they do serve an important function: holding up your bird’s wings during flight (as well as providing protection for their delicate skin).
These bones are not just for wishing. Turkeys need their wishbones for healthy breathing.
It turns out, the turkey’s wishbone isn’t just for making a wish. It’s also a very important part of their respiratory system.
Wishbones help turkeys breathe by expanding and contracting with each breath. They are connected to the lungs via cartilage, so they expand and contract as well. This allows for more efficient breathing for turkeys, which are known for their high-energy lifestyle.
In addition to turkeys, chickens also have wishbones.
Chickens also have wishbones, but they’re not as easy to find. Unlike the turkey’s wishbone, which is located on the breastplate right next to your thumb when you’re holding it with both hands, chicken wishbones are hidden beneath skin and muscle near their legs.
To locate them, separate the drumstick from its thigh by cutting through the skin and tendons at either end. Then locate a small flap of skin just above where the thigh meets each drumstick (the place where you’ll find that snap-on plastic thing if you ever buy one of those “free range” chickens). Use a paring knife or kitchen shears to cut through this flap of skin until you get down to bone; then peel back any layers until you can see a small bumpy object that looks kind of like an elbow. That’s your chicken’s wishbone!
Learn about wishbones before you buy your holiday turkey
If you’re planning on buying a turkey for the holidays, there are a few things you should know about wishbones. Wishbones are located between the neck and breastbone on the upper part of the breast meat. They may look like collar bones because they’re both almost identical in shape; however, wishbones have a flatter surface that connects with tendons, while collar bones do not.
Wishbones are often confused with collar bones because they’re both almost identical in shape; however, wishbones have a flatter surface that connects with tendons, while collar bones do not. Also unlike these other small bones found in turkeys (which can be used as toothpicks), wishbones cannot be consumed by humans—though it’s not uncommon to find people trying to eat them anyway!
If you want your holiday dinner guests to guess correctly when they’re playing with their food after dinner is over and done with: make sure there’s only one right answer before choosing which bird will grace your table this year!
Now that you know where the wishbone is located in a turkey, you can make your own wish. This year, we hope that your holiday meal will be a happy one!