Thanksgiving Then & Now

Thanksgiving in 1623 vs. 2020 according to the dishes the attendants dined on

Caroline Wehrell, Staff Writer

Whether you enjoy Thanksgiving or not, everyone has their favorite Thanksgiving foods. I know I do, but have you ever wondered what the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags chose to dine on for the first Thanksgiving? People spend hours preparing their Thanksgiving turkeys, but the Colonists and Native Americans had something different in mind. The Wampanoag tribe brought the pilgrims five deer to roast over a fire because ovens weren’t available to the pilgrims yet. Since the first Thanksgiving took place in the autumn, the pilgrims and Native Americans could offer up their fall harvest for the meal. The vegetables are similar to those we eat at Thanksgiving today, including onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, carrots and peas.

Many people’s favorite part of Thanksgiving is cornbread. The pilgrims made something similar called corn mush, which is similar to bread pudding but is baked using corn. The sauces that the pilgrims and Native Americans used are also similar to those we use today, other than the fact that they completely lack sugar. The first Thanksgiving attendees consumed sauces and dishes made with cranberries, raspberries, gooseberries, grapes and plums. Because the first colonies resided on the East coast, shellfish was a large part of their diets, definitely something unique to the first Thanksgiving feast compared to today. The Native Americans and pilgrims ate mussels with curds, lobster, bass, clam and oyster. Unfortunately, there were no mashed potatoes at the original Thanksgiving because potatoes are actually indigenous to South America. They weren’t valued enough to be imported to the colonies. As said earlier, there were no ovens, but the pilgrims did create a way to enjoy their pumpkins. The colonists would clean a pumpkin and fill it with milk, honey and spices to make a sweet pumpkin-flavored beverage. Although the first Thanksgiving took place 397 years ago, we can still see some similarities between what the pilgrims and Native Americans ate and what we enjoy today.  


LOBSTER?: A recreation of the types of foods the Pilgrims and Native Americans most likely dined on at the first Thanksgiving in 1623. (Photo by Sadie Trombetta from Bustle.)