Top 10 Most Popular Thanksgiving Foods VS 10 Foods Served at The First Thanksgiving

Jasmine Sigmann

Number 1 Most Popular… 

  1. Turkey 

No surprise here, turkey is the number 1 for the most popular foods served at thanksgiving with about 88% of Americans eating it on the holiday. It is such a popular dish that 46 million turkeys are eaten every year on thanksgiving, doubling the number of turkeys eaten on Christmas every year at 22 million turkeys. But the question is was turkey served at the first thanksgiving?

Shockingly no, it is possible but seems highly unlikely that turkey was served at the first thanksgiving. Turkey was not a commonly eaten food back then but they did have waterfowl like ducks, geese, and swans. So there were birds, just probably not turkey. 

Recipe to make dish: 


  1. Mashed potatoes 

That right, going on to number 2 we have mashed potatoes at 78%.  The yummy, buttery, sometimes cheesy or garlicky dish takes the plate for the 2nd most popular. With 250 million pounds of potatoes in every variety used every thanksgiving. The average serving of mashed potatoes per person is about ⅓ to ½ a pound of mashed potatoes. Now that’s a lot of potatoes. So were mashed potatoes served at the first thanksgiving?

Close, they did have potatoes just not the mashed kind. Potatoes had recently been introduced to the area from the Bahamas as a gift from a British governor to the governor of Virginia and then were spread north the same year as the first thanksgiving. 

Recipe to make dish: 


  1. Stuffing 

For number 3 we have stuffing with 77% saying it for most popular . No, not the kind you’d find in a stuffed animal but the mixture of usually bread and herbs. Stuffing can be used as a filling, dressing, or just alone. It’s sometimes used to stuff vegetables and poultry like the turkey. The stuffing helps retain the moisture. But was their stuffing at the first thanksgiving?

Nope, they didn’t have stuffing at the first thanksgiving. But they did have cornmeal/cornbread that they made with porridge and if they wanted it sweetened they’d add fruit. 

Recipe to make that dish: 


  1. Bread Rolls

Rolling onto number four, no pun intended, we have bread rolls. The fluffy table side snack you’d rub some butter on to hold you over while the turkey and ham were roasting in the oven is quite popular. Whether you buy it from the store or make it yourself 74% of people say bread rolls are the most popular. Apparently Americans buy about 40.5 million rolls just for thanksgiving. Now that’s a lot of carbs. Did the pilgrims have rolls at their thanksgiving though?

No, they did not. Like mentioned earlier the closest they had to it was a cornmeal/cornbread which was basically turned into a porridge. But they did have beans. The pilgrims and natives ate beans that we believe were possibly kidney and pinto beans. 

Recipe to make that dish: 


  1. Ham 

At 5 we have ham coming in at 67%. At Thanksgiving Americans eat about 24.75 million pounds of bone in hams according to a study done in 2019. That’s equivalent to 619 truckloads of the pork butt meal. It’s most commonly served glazed, sometimes garnished with pineapple, brown sugar, mustard, or honey. So, was this served at the first thanksgiving?

Disappointingly the pilgrims didn’t get to enjoy ham. Instead they had venison which is deer meat. On some of the few documents left from the first thanksgiving it mentions the Indians hunting deer and waterfowl to feast on. 

Recipe to make that dish:  


  1. Scalloped Potatoes

Back at it with the potatoes again, here we are with number 6 being scalloped potatoes being at 66%. Unlike mashed potatoes these ones are seasoned, sliced thinly, then layered in a pan with cheese and milk to be baked in the oven. Like mentioned earlier lots of Americans buy potatoes for the holiday. Were these served though?

Now these were definitely not served at the first thanksgiving. But they did have all sorts of vegetables like onions, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, etc. that they grew from their crops. 

Recipe to make that dish: 


  1. Sweet Potatoes And Yams

For 7 we have even MORE potatoes with sweet potatoes/yams coming in with 65%. It seems we really liked those potatoes and starches because 3 of the most popular dishes are potatoes prepared in different ways. With yams and sweet potatoes they’re prepared in all sorts of ways, some even being made with marshmallows in the recipes. 

Now we all know the answer by now is no but they did serve fish at the first thanksgiving. That’s right they had cod, bass, and flint that they caught and served at the feast.

Recipe for that dish: 


  1. Gravy 

Here we are at number 8 with gravy. I’m not really sure if it counts as a meal but it’s definitely a popular dish at 64%. Usually gravy is made up of the juices of the meat, for thanksgiving most likely turkey, mixed with flour or cornstarch to thicken the gravy, seasonings, and chicken broth. So was this served at the first thanksgiving?

Nope, they didn’t have gravy at the first thanksgiving. But they did have cranberries, just not boiled down with sugar to make a sauce. But they did have the berry.

Recipe for that dish: 


  1. Green Beans

Yes, that’s right at number 9 we have the green vegetable coming in with 64%. Seems that green beans are quite popular for the holiday whether they’re canned or fresh. If fresh they’re probably seasoned and cooked on the stove or added to a meal being put in the oven. So was this at the first thanksgiving?

No, that’s not one of the vegetables that they had. But they did have pumpkins. They didn’t have the treat of  pumpkin pie. Pumpkin was served mixed with vinegars and berries and herbs.

Recipe for that dish: 


  1. Mac And Cheese

As for our final dish we have something that is very familiar to the picky eaters out there, we have mac and cheese being number 10 at 62%. Mac and cheese is a nice cheesy pasta dish that can be made on the stove or baked in the oven being made from scratch or from a box mix. But was it something they had at the first thanksgiving?

Sadly no, they didn’t get to experience mac and cheese. But they did have lobster, because of how close the ocean was. 

Recipe for that dish:



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