Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving (for most of us) without turkey.

Oh, the trimmings and fixings make the meal special and enrich the tradition, but the foundation of the meal is turkey.

The Midwest goes a long way in making that possible across the nation. The University of Wisconsin invites you to think twice as you carve the turkey this Thanksgiving, because you can thank University of Wisconsin alum Wallace Jerome, in particular.

The native of Spooner, Wis., loved to watch turkey eggs hatch. Between his 14th birthday and the time he completed high school in 1928, he had hatched a flock of 200 birds.

Jerome promptly went to Madison to take the UW's Farm and Industry Short Course, and after completing it in 1928, he became an egg inspector for the state's Department of Agriculture.

At the height of the Great Depression, Jerome purchased an abandoned pea cannery in Barron, Wis., and turned it into a processing plant for turkey meat, according to the UW. He also managed to return to college and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in poultry husbandry in 1941.

After improving turkey-farming systems to handle large numbers of birds, he launched Jerome Foods. That became the Turkey Store and ultimately merged with Hormel Foods to become today's Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Jerome also created turkey-based innovations such as GobbleStix, steaks, tenderloins, sausages, burgers and ham. Clearly, when you talk turkey, you're talking Jerome. His entrepreneurial spirit results in dozens and dozens of turkey farmers across our region producing thousands and thousands of birds for Jennie-O that help feed the nation - on the fourth Thursday of November and every day of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving!