How Thanksgiving Food Has Changed Over Time

Photo Credit:

Aniya Allender, OwlFeed Lifestyle Reporter

With Thanksgiving being on the 25th of November, there are different types of food that people eat with their family or friends. 

The multiple foods to eat for Thanksgiving are turkey, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, corn, greens, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, dressing/stuffing, bread rolls, green beans, casserole, gravy, yams, ham, and more. 

In 1621 the members of the Plymouth colony survived their first brutal winter and also established a food supply successfully. The members that remained held a harvest feast that lasted three days alongside the native Wampanoag Indians. 

Although wild turkey wasn’t the centerpiece and was a very likely component there were others things like eel, duck, oysters, and venison. Venison is a type of meat from horned ungulates such as deer, elk, moose, and caribou. 

In 1792 early settlers might have used crushed nuts and herbs to dress their turkey but today’s tradition is stuffing that is bread-like. It is spiked with salt, pork, butter, and herbs like marjoram and sage. But this did not appear in American cookbooks until ten late 18th century like Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery. 

In those days wheat and flour were a rare thing so the stuffing that you are familiar with, the buttery cubed bread with herbs, garlic, and turkey drippings wasn’t possible. 

Pumpkin pie was popularized by the British upper classes during the 16th and 17th centuries. This pie was made with sliced squash and apples, sealed in a double-pastry shell that was thick. This also has little resemblance to the creamy, custardy, nutmeg, and cinnamon-spiced versions that the Yankee homemakers embraced passionately during the 1800s. 

According to, “Pumpkin Pie wasn’t common on American tables until the turn of the 19th century.”

The site added: “To modern tastes, the marriage of sticky-sweet sweet potatoes and marshmallows crust might seem like a kitschy remnant of the Leave-it-to-Beaver era, but in fact, this dish’s origin reaches back even further.” 

But marshmallows were promoted by their maker also by the company named Angelus, with marshmallows being new around the 20th century. Angelus’s company then had a recipe corporated which was the first known recipe to have marshmallows be the topping to mashed sweet potatoes. 

In 1912 Marus L. Urann, a lawyer for Savvy Yankee, changed the landscape of a Thanksgiving table and the cranberry industry forever. Over 100 years ago cranberries were only able to be bought while fresh for two months out of the year. 

In 1930 Mr. Urann went into making a company that is known for its cranberry juice, Ocean Spray. Ocean Spray’s idea of logged ‘jellied’ cranberry sauce keeps it from breaking apart even when shaken in the can. It first hit the market a couple of decades later in 1941. 

The article from stated, “It Is gobbled up by the gallon (about 5,062,500 gallons, to be precise) each holiday season.” 

Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays in the US. When you have Thanksgiving dinner next year, don’t forget about the interesting facts you learned.