Which popular Thanksgiving dish was not at the first Thanksgiving?

And the answer: mashed potatoes.  
Photo credit: public domain. 

Whether white or sweet, potatoes had not yet made their way to the U.S. from their respective native homes in South America and the Caribbean. Similarly, there was no gravy, because the colonists did not have mills to produce flour. In 1621, the first Thanksgiving dinner was plentiful with wildfowl such as geese or duck, venison, a variety of vegetables, and seafood—fresh from Massachusetts Bay.

No, there might not have been mashed potatoes or gravy at the first Thanksgiving, but the three-day harvest festival that took place in 1621 was far from shorthanded. 50 pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Native Americans celebrated the bountiful harvest of the year with ducks, geese, and swans (and likely some wild turkeys, but historians aren’t too sure) stuffed with nuts and onions, and served with a plethora of other fresh food. Although we lost the seafood element of our Thanksgiving dinners over time, a little surf and turf doesn’t sound so bad at all…

Despite the celebration and good tidings of the first Thanksgiving, it wasn’t until 1789 that George Washington called for the inauguration of a national day of thanks, to celebrate the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. And, during the Civil War, both the Confederacy and the Union issued Thanksgiving Day proclamations following major victories. The holiday had, at that point, spread to national proportions—and only continued to grow. Following a pivotal Union Army victory at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln announced that the nation would celebrate an official Thanksgiving holiday on November 26, 1863, and every fourth Thursday in November thereafter.

Did you know?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving! While you enjoy (or trudge through, depending on your point of view) those turkey leftovers and turn on some football, remember to give thanks to all the people in your life that make it all possible. Learn more about the history of the holiday here.

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