Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

Many dishes have become the norm for Thanksgiving, but how many of those foods actually were at the first one?

I went to a Thanksgiving buffet this past weekend with some friends. And I saw all the same dishes that I’m preparing for my own Thanksgiving meal. The green bean casserole with the French fried onions on top. The turkey, the ham, the mashed potatoes and gravy. Rolls, cranberry sauce and an assortment of pies. We’ve all pretty much gotten used to making the same dishes every year for the holiday.

But I’ve never stopped to wonder just how authentic those dishes are compared to the very first Thanksgiving. Did the pilgrims even have French fried onions? So I did what I do. I looked it up. According to, turkey most likely was eaten at the first Thanksgiving. Since wild turkey was easily accessible to those who were living in the newly-settled area of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Mashed potatoes, however, were nowhere near the table on the first Thanksgiving. Potatoes weren’t even introduced to the American colonists until the 1700s ( And since the first Thanksgiving happened in 1621, and the pilgrims didn’t have Morty McFly and his time machine, there weren’t ANY potatoes. Let alone mashed ones.

Cranberry sauce also was most likely missing from the first Thanksgiving table. Since there wasn’t a lot of sugar in 1621. Plus the cranberry was so new to the pilgrims at that time, they wouldn’t even know how to sauce those little guys. At that time, the Wampanoag people were using the cranberry to dye clothing ( Pumpkin pie was also not likely there. While the pilgrims did make foods out of pumpkins, they didn’t have the ingredients to make a crust that is needed for a pie.

So many of our traditional Thanksgiving dishes weren’t at the first Thanksgiving feast. So then, what was?

If you’re looking to make a REALLY authentic Thanksgiving this year, try adding one of these to your meal. -Wendy Rush, 96.3KKLZ

  • Venison

    A plate of delicious seared venison loin steak, cooked medium rare, on a bed of vegetables and sauce.

    Venison Loin Steak

    Historical accounts of the first Thanksgiving clearly state that there was deer meat there. In fact, when a leader of the Wampanoag people brought 90 of his warriors to join the feast, there wasn’t enough food to go around. So he sent his men out to bring more back. They returned with five deer and added them to the meal (

    Intrigued? If you’d like to add a venison dish to your table this year, there are many options. Here’s a recipe for Stuffed Venision Loin, to get those creative juices flowing.

  • Lobster

    Baked lobster on a white plate.

    Baked Lobster

    Accounts from life in the 1620s around Plymouth indicate that there was plenty of lobster in the nearby bay. Mussels as well, according to So, if you’re a seafood lover, get your Thanksgiving lobster on! And here are four recipes to pick from this year. Written by the Maine Lobster Festival! So, you know those are going to be good.

  • Seethed Mussels

    bowl of mussel and parsley

    Seethed Mussels with Parsley

    Remember we said the nearby bay for the pilgrims had lobster as well as mussels. So it’s a good bet that there were a few of those little guys at the first Thanksgiving feast as well. If you want to give that a go, here’s a recipe to try for Seethed Mussels with Parsley and Vinegar.

  • Corn Pudding

    corn pudding in the corn husk boat

    Corn Pudding in a Husk

    Historians say that there definitely was corn at the first Thanksgiving, but not in the way we eat them today. There were no cobs or loose corn with butter. It was most likely served in the form of pudding that was mixed from the Wampanoag’s cornmeal. Along with molasses brought from the Caribbean, and milk from the colonists from Europe (

    You can serve the pudding in ramekins, or make it super cute and festive by pudding it back into the corn husks! Here’s the recipe for the Pioneer Woman’s version. I’m pretty sure this is happening at our house this year.

  • Roasted Pumpkin

    Vegan food with table top view.

    Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

    As mentioned before, there wasn’t pumpkin pie at the first Thanksgiving. But the Plymouth settlers did have access to a lot of pumpkins. They just did other things with them. One of them being roasting. And not only is this Stuffed Pumpkin recipe adorable for your table, but it’s vegetarian-friendly too! If you have any tofurkey eaters coming this year.

    Another thing the pilgrims did with pumpkins is fill them with milk and honey to make a custard. If you’re curious about what that tastes like, here’s a recipe for Pumpkin Custard to try. You can even serve it in the mini pumpkins!

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