The Surprising Reason We Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving

When it comes to Thanksgiving, people all over America have one food item on their minds: turkey. It’s a staple of almost everyone’s Thanksgiving meal, but the reason why it’s so isn’t exactly common knowledge.

What did the Pilgrims eat on the first Thanksgiving?

Many believe that the Pilgrims ate turkey at the famous first feast in 1621. According to smithsonianHowever, it is more likely that the group Mashpee fed on venom provided by hunters from the Wampanoag tribe.

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So, if turkey wasn’t first served on Thanksgiving, why do we eat it every year?

Ken Albala, professor of history at the University of the Pacific, said“Medieval Europe had a tradition of serving large wild birds, particularly the peacock, which was skinned, cooked, and re-sewn in its feathers for presentation.”

He continued, “When turkeys from America and guinea fowl from Africa were introduced [to America] In the 17th century, they were served that way.”

Turkeys weren’t native to North America at the time of the first Thanksgiving, but once they became familiar with the environment, they became a great source of protein.

why do we eat turkey on holiday

Turkeys tend to be larger than chickens, ducks, or geese, making them a better choice for serving large gatherings. Additionally, killing a turkey for such a widely celebrated festival makes more sense than using any other animal; Cattle give milk and other birds lay eggs. Turkeys only offer meat.

In 1870, Thanksgiving was made an official national holiday, and roast turkey was widely considered the official dish of the occasion. This was mostly due to the use of images and descriptions of turkeys in popular culture.

For example, in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, the characters dine on turkey instead of the traditional goose. Another popular book Northwood: A Tale of New EnglandAlso described a Thanksgiving meal that included turkey.

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Today, turkey is a part of nearly everyone’s Thanksgiving celebration, but many people put their own spin on the dish. From cooking methods to seasonings to side dishes, each family’s take on turkey is slightly different.

The first Pilgrims may not have dined on turkey, but the food item is now forever associated with our Thanksgiving meal.

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