Jerry Seinfeld was a big fan of the show, and wanted to do a voice. So he was offered to play the part of Turkey #4. But Seinfeld's people objected to having him play such a small role and wouldn't allow him to do the show.
The episode was partially inspired by the commercials for the Christian Children's Fund, in which Sally Struthers encourages viewers to donate money to provide food for starving children in Africa. Trey Parker said he did not really believe Struthers was hoarding food from the charity, but he came up with the concept because he found it funny that such an obese woman would make a public plea for food for others.
Trey Parker said he had always wondered how a starving African child would react if they were taken to a large buffet dinner at an American restaurant, with "people leaving tons of food on their plates", which served as inspiration for the restaurant scene.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone originally planned for Sally Struthers to die at the end of the episode and have the African children eat her and live off her fat; Comedy Central executives told the duo they could not kill Struthers, although celebrities have been killed off in subsequent episodes without any objections from the network.
After the episode aired, Trey Parker and Matt Stone received feedback that audiences felt it was especially unkind to Sally Struthers. Although they did not speak to her themselves, the duo received word that Struthers was a fan of the show until this episode aired, after which she was very upset and reportedly reacted emotionally over her portrayal. Struthers was particularly saddened by the fact that her character steals food from the same starving children she had been working to help. Parker and Stone were slightly remorseful when they learned of her reaction and have said they did not have anything against Struthers personally. Nevertheless, Struthers was portrayed in an even less flattering way in South Park: Starvin' Marvin in Space (1999) as a Jabba the Hutt-like creature. In a DVD commentary track, Parker said of Struthers, "Dude, you're really setting yourself up if you're going to be that fat and go on the air talking about [starving children]. ... We don't think she's a bad person, she's probably nice to try to do this, but cut down on the Twinkies a little bit before going on the air."
The chalkboard in Mr. Garrison's classroom reads: "ANALOGY = COMPARISON 1. Trees are to bushes as buildings are to houses. 2. David Duchovny is to tampons as nougat is to chocolate." The entire thing was written in all caps, & all of the 'N's are backwards.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone were unhappy with the turkey attack subplot, which they felt "never really went anywhere" and ended abruptly without any satisfying conclusion. They nevertheless included it because they felt obligated to include a B story, since every episode in the season so far had included one. Later in the series, they said they realized this was not necessary and made many episodes without a B story. Although the duo liked the "payoff" of the Starvin' Marvin main plot, they did not know how to end the turkey subplot, so they simply had the characters kill all the turkeys and claim that there were none left; they decided this sudden ending was the funniest possible option. Stone said of the subplot, "The turkeys were just an excuse to have the Braveheart (1995) sequence."
Tom Vogt, who served as the editor of the show for several years, was inspired to join the show after watching a bootleg copy of this episode. He had never seen the show before, but was so impressed by the episode he decided to drive to Colorado and seek a job with Trey Parker and Matt Stone. He was hired as the show's editor after contacting one of the animators who used to work for the same company as he had.
The animators enjoyed creating the turkey battle scene, which was designed to be shown in widescreen aspect ratio while the rest of the episode was animated normally. However, the animation proved to be very difficult and took a long time to do because it involved a larger number of characters and animals in one scene than had ever been featured previously in the show. Some of the characters in the far background were animated as gray and shadowy, which Trey Parker said was not so much a visual effect as it was a "lighting effect meaning we didn't want to draw all these people".
The diner that the boys take Starvin' Marvin to is called King Jimmy's Buffet. King James I of England was instrumental in the establishment of the Massachusetts Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims left England on the ship "Mayflower" in 1620 because they disagreed with James' policies, and settled on the Atlantic coast. In 1621 they made a treaty with local Indians and enjoyed a buffet of native foods.