As you prepare to settle down to your own fall harvest Thanksgiving meal, consider these interesting – and often unrealized facts – about this very American tradition. If nothing else, these historical appetizers will make great conversation starters regardless of political orientation – as long as you stay away from the history of Franksgiving (see below).
The feast celebrated now as Thanksgiving in the United States took place at Plymouth Colony in 1621 and lasted for three days. It was attended by 53 colonists and 90 Wampanoag.
The first Thanksgiving in Plymouth did not have forks, but rather people ate with spoons, knives and their fingers.
According to the writings of colonist Edward Winslow, “wild fowl” was served, but it is not clear if that meant duck, goose, swan or turkey.
While we do not know if turkey was served (and it likely was not) historians do know that venison, eel and lobster were served along with the side dishes of nuts, cranberries, pumpkin (but no pie), squash and carrots.
Regardless of the likely historical absence of turkey in 1621 Plymouth, Americans gobbled about 690 million pounds of turkey in 2007. This year, about 48 million turkeys will be eaten on Thanksgiving. It is unclear how many Tofurkeys will be consumed.
Turduckens – a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken – has gained popularity in recent years as the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving feast.