How the Thanksgiving menu evolved | KBIA

How the Thanksgiving menu evolved

Nov 26, 2013

Watch the show and join the conversation on the Intersection website. 

If you're like most people, you've probably started thinking already about the traditional foods you'll eat this week at Thanksgiving dinner.

As many of us learned in elementary school, the holiday is based on a three-day harvest feast held back in 1621. No one knows for certain what exactly was on the table at that first meal, but two colonial accounts mention venison, wild fowl, lobsters, eels, mussels, grapes, plums, and corn. 

What's conspicuously not mentioned are some of the foods we now consider Thanksgiving staples, such as sweetened cranberry sauce, potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Turkey is mentioned, but its prominence at that first meal is doubtful.

This week on Intersection, we’ll talk turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, and ask why we eat the foods that we do on Thanksgiving.


Marcia Vanderlip is the food editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Trey Quinlan is the chef and owner of Trey Bistro.

Sandy Oliver is a food historian and co-author of the book Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie.

Carol Fisher is a writer on cookbook and food history. She’s the author of The American Cookbook: A History.