The Pilgrims original Thanksgiving meal in 1621

“Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house, not a creature was singing, not even a mouse. The turkeys were stuffed and sat on the table, in hopes that family would soon enjoy the staple. ” -diylifestyle

“Today the traditional Thanksgiving meal includes, stuffing, cranberries, Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. But if one were to create a historically accurate feast, consisting of only those foods that historians are certain were served at the so-called “first Thanksgiving,” there would be slimmer pickings. Wildfowl was there. Corn, in grain form for bread or for porridge, was there. Venison was there. In addition, the autumn of 1621 brought a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many.”

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“Unlike today, in 1621 Turkey was not the centerpiece of the meal. What????? No Turkey? Though it is possible the colonists and American Indians cooked wild turkey, Historians suspect that goose, duck or deer was the main course of choice. In addition to wildfowl and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels. They dried shellfish and smoked other sorts of fish.”

“What about stuffing the bird? It is possible that the birds were stuffed, though probably not with bread. (Bread, made from maize not wheat, was likely a part of the meal, but exactly how it was made is unknown.) The Pilgrims instead stuffed birds with chunks of onion and herbs.” Which now that I am thinking of it, does sound pretty appetizing.

“Of course, to some extent, the exercise of the remaining spread of food at the 1621 celebration becomes a process of elimination. You look at what an English celebration in England included at this time. What are some dishes on the table? You would see lots of pies in the first course and in the second course, meat and fish pies. To cook turkey in a pie was not terribly uncommon. But the pies did not include pastry. The colonists did not have butter and wheat flour to make crusts for pies and tarts. That’s right: No pumpkin pie! That was a blank in the table, for an English eye. So what are they putting out instead? Historians think meat, meat and more meat.”

“But wait! This meat is not accompanied by potatoes. White potatoes, originating in South America, and sweet potatoes, from the Caribbean, had yet to infiltrate North America. Also, there would have been no cranberry sauce. It would be another 50 years before an Englishman wrote about boiling cranberries and sugar into a “Sauce to eat with……Meat.” If there was beer, there were only a couple of gallons for 150 people for three days. Historians say to wash it all down the English and Wampanoag drank water. (The healthy option).”

Today, November 21, 2018, the 21st Century. : I took a step back and thought about how much the first Thanksgiving meal in 1621 has evolved into our  2018 Thanksgiving meal. Deer or duck were certainly not staple items at our Thanksgiving meals. No cranberry sauce? That is certainly not something many of us could go without, in addition to no pies. I think out of all my research on this article I found that piece of fact the most interesting. For me at least it is hard to imagine Thanksgiving dinner without these dishes.

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Tell me your thoughts below? Did you like this post? Do you think you could survive Thanksgiving without these staple dishes?

I used the article “What was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving” to guide my blog post. I found this article on Smithsonian mag.com. Although I use their article to base my blog post off of, I changed a number of words and took out a lot of their content to make it my own.

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. I will be posting tomorrow morning at 7 a.m, last minute recipes & tips for your Holiday party. Have a great day and I’ll see ya’ll tomorrow 🙂


“Two primary sources—the only surviving documents that reference the meal—confirm that these staples were part of the harvest celebration shared by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony in 1621.” – Smithsonian mag.com

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