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Why record Thanksgiving costs aren't really a record

The cost of Thanksgiving has crossed $50 for the first time, but don't hit the panic button yet.

Adjusted for inflation, Turkey Day's true cost, as figured by the American Farm Bureau Federation's survey, has crossed the $50 mark several times before, most recently two years ago. This year, the survey calculates the average cost of feasting for a group of 10 to be $50.11. The market basket includes items like a 16-pound turkey, pumpkin pie mix, stuffing and pie shells.

In fact, this year's "real" cost after taking inflation into account is not even the most expensive Thanksgiving meal Americans have encountered this decade. The real price tags in 2011 and 2012 were each more expensive, clocking in at $52.02 and $51.26, respectively.

Things were also more costly in the 1980s with a few of those years also topping today's average. The meal in 1986 rang in at $62.37 inflation adjusted, making it the survey's highest total to date.

So, what's pushing up the cost this year?

That would be the meal's centerpiece; the turkey rose 6.4 percent this year.

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"There were some production disruptions earlier this year due to the highly pathogenic Avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest. Turkey production is down this year but not dramatically," said John Anderson, the group's deputy chief economist, in a release.

Although the survey showed a modest increase in turkey prices compared to last year, Anderson said retailers are starting to price turkeys aggressively to attract customers as the holiday nears. The average advertised prices for frozen whole hens and tom turkeys are both lower than last year, according to a USDA report out Friday.