Thanksgiving Trivia: Is Your Dish Original or Traditional?

Does your Thanksgiving plate look anything like the First Thanksgiving meal?

The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 at Plymouth Rock where the Pilgrims had arrived in the Mayflower. When the Pilgrims first arrived, they had to suffer through a very harsh winter but were able to survive with the aid of the natives. After the previous winter had wiped out the majority of the crops, they decided to celebrate the autumn harvest with the crops they had leftover by having a large feast known as Thanksgiving. Together, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians celebrated the harvest with this feast.

Click on the gallery below to see which meals from your plate the Pilgrims and Native Americans would recognize, and which ones you’d never guess they shared!

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  • states: “Whether mashed or roasted, white or sweet, potatoes had no place at the first Thanksgiving.” This root native to South America hadn’t made it that far north yet. Recipe:

  • The Pilgrims and Native Americans likely ate pumpkins at the First Thanksgiving, but reports that the “colony lacked the butter and wheat flour necessary for making pie crust.” Pumpkin pie as we know it wasn’t something available due to resources! Recipe:

  • Macaroni and Cheese definitely did not make it to the table at the Harvest Festival because by the late 1800’s, many people still were unaware of it. Ryan W. Owen, who studies New England history, reports that Mac and Cheese was viewed as “exotic” and an “upper class” dish by the Victorians. Some of the first macaroni and cheese dishes Victorians created were more similar to what we would call lasagna today. Another reason macaroni and cheese could not have made it to the First Thanksgiving: the Pilgrims did not have ovens to cook with. Recipe:

  • Wild turkey was readily available in the New England region and most certainly was present at the First Thanksgiving. reports that many other birds may have made it to the table as well, including ducks, geese, and swans. Recipe:

  • Cranberries are native to New England and most likely were present at the First Thanksgiving, as the Native Americans were familiar with them. However, cranberry sauce was most certainly NOT present. Why? The Pilgrims had already used up their supply of sugar by the time of the autumn harvest. Recipe:

  • states that many vegetables would have been present at the Harvest Festival, including cabbage, onions, and corn. However, “In those days, the corn would have been removed from the cob and turned into cornmeal, which was then boiled and pounded into a thick corn mush or porridge that was occasionally sweetened with molasses.” Recipe:

  • Looking for an excuse to add lobster to your Thanksgiving plate? reports that seafood was readily available at the time of the Harvest Festival, as seen in Colonist Edward Winslow’s account of the “bounty of seafood near Plymouth: ‘Our bay is full of lobsters.'” Recipe:

  • Mussels is another food that was prevalent in the New England region and may have been present at the First Thanksgiving. Recipe:

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