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A Few Thanksgivings Ago...

A Few Thanksgivings Ago...

It’s that time of year again. How quickly time flies. We are on the verge of another holiday season and with it, all the joy, activity, and food. For many it’s a time of genuine excitement. It involves traveling to see family, enjoying great conversation and traditional dishes, including some that are really only eaten during this time of year. For people who can’t make it home for Thanksgiving or have limited family, the very popular “Friendsgiving” offers a chance for everyone to get into the spirit of the holiday and not have to spend it alone. It’s a time for gratitude and for tradition. It’s all good.

And the food served at the Thanksgiving table is iconic. It’s not just the turkey that makes us sleepy and satisfied, it’s the sheer volume and variety of dishes spread out before us. To come to dinner without elastic waistband pants is a mistake! It may seem overindulgent, but isn’t that half the fun? To laugh and eat and laugh and eat some more and then to have dessert – every moment is to be savored. If a nap is required afterwards, so be it.

We are spoiled in this modern age with recipes reaching new heights of deliciousness. Even the side dishes are dreamy, with soups, potatoes, green veggies and pies transporting diners with their taste and quality. But in the not so distant past, some of the dishes served at Thanksgiving were less than appetizing. In the 1950s and 60s there seems to have been a dip in quality and an obsession with mixing things that have no business being in the same mixing bowl.

Here are some examples of Thanksgiving recipes that are, thankfully, no longer served!

Orange Mallow Yam Yums

While sweet potato casserole with marshmallows continues to be a popular Thanksgiving side, the introduction of orange slices makes the recipe taste just…odd. The oranges don’t belong and you can almost hear the sweet potatoes begging for them to be removed. Luckily, this recipe’s heyday was short lived.

Cranberry Surprise

This recipe popular in the 1960s combines cranberry sauce with a wildly popular condiment of the same era – mayonnaise. People put mayonnaise on everything in the 1960s, and someone had the bright idea to add it to cranberry sauce and serve it on Thanksgiving. The mix also included gelatin, bits of pineapple and apple, and in addition to mayonnaise in the main recipe, a dollop was also dropped on top. Somehow, this just doesn’t seem right.

Spam Birds

Ah spam. It’s cooked meat that comes in a can. It’s made mostly of ham and other meats and it has remained popular since the 1930s. But Spam birds were only popular for a short time, and the reasons are clear. They do take the stress out of cooking a turkey, but they just don’t really fit in on the Thanksgiving table. The recipe is simple. A slice of Spam wrapped around stuffing and held together with toothpicks. We’ve come a long way baby.

Frozen Jellied Turkey Vegetable Salad

For our final entry into the strangest and least delicious mid-century Thanksgiving dishes contest, the frozen jellied turkey vegetable salad has to be the winner. Combining chunks of turkey, unflavored gelatin, cream of celery soup, carrots, peas and you guessed it, mayonnaise; this dish was left to congeal in the freezer and has a very unappetizing look. The taste is not much better.

We’ve definitely elevated the meals we serve for holidays, especially Thanksgiving. It’s hard to imagine that any of these dinner ideas made it past the test kitchen, but they did. And now we can look back on the failed experiments of our grandparents and learn from them. So this Thanksgiving, in addition to being grateful for all of the many wonderful blessings in our lives, let’s also be grateful that we don’t have to eat cranberry surprise, jellied turkey vegetable salad, or anything else whose main ingredient is mayonnaise!