When it comes to holiday meals, Thanksgiving dinner is one of the most rigidly codified. Sure, Easter has its food traditions, but it at least offers a choice of ham or lamb, and Christmas meals around the world can range from tamales to pierogis to KFC to the Grinch-carved “roast beast” served in Whoville. For Thanksgiving, though, there’s only one thing that’s permitted lest the holiday police issue a citation for inappropriate festivities. As the holiday’s nickname indicates, Turkey Day can only be celebrated with a roast (or possibly fried) (but never, ever microwaved) Meleagris gallopavo.
Not only is the turkey itself de rigueur, but it has to come with “all the trimmings”. As to what these trimmings must be, dessert had darn well better be a pumpkin pie, though you can dish up a pecan one in addition to (never in lieu of) the pumpkin. Side dishes allow a little more leeway, but only a little. It’s expected that you’ll serve that turkey up with stuffing and cranberry sauce, but a few other dishes tend to make their way on to many holiday tables. There’s that weird green been/mushroom soup mashup of Lutheran church potluck fame, plus an even odder concoction of sweet potatoes and marshmallows… Good thing Thanksgiving comes but once a year. In order to determine the most popular Thanksgiving sides may be, The List conducted a poll that received 19K responses. The results may surprise you — but then again, maybe they won’t.
How our poll choices ranked
For simplicity’s sake, the poll only gave four choices: stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and rolls. Plus “other”, for a total of five. Of the four choices listed, the top vote getter, by a wide margin, was a side dish that isn’t particularly Thanksgiving-y in and of itself, as it tends to be found whenever there’s roast meat on the table, and is also often seen in the company of fried chicken: mashed potatoes, with 46 percent of the vote. (This result aligned with data complied by career site Zippia, although the real shocker on their map was that “Famous Potatoes” state Idaho prefers green beans.)
The number two choice, with only half as many votes (23 percent), was the traditional stuffing, proving that mushy bread does have its fan base, at least if served in a seasonal context. Number three was a different form of bread, one that hasn’t been wetted down and stuffed up a bird’s behind: the humble yet tasty dinner roll, favored by 14 percent. And number four, capturing 6 percent of the vote, was that church basement staple, green bean casserole.
Some other popular Thanksgiving sides
The math whizzes amongst you may have realized that those four choices accounted for just 89 percent of the total vote. So what, then, did the other 11 percent favor? Cranberry sauce, which was left off the list of choices, received a fair share of write-in votes. Sweet potato (or yam) casserole also has its partisans, and macaroni and cheese is considered a traditional Thanksgiving side dish by a surprising number of people. One person even voted for a variant version, baked spaghetti. Others, mistaking Thanksgiving for a picnic (or perhaps fortunate enough to live in the type of climate that permits this), suggested deviled eggs and potato salad.
As our poll, conducted via YouTube, was a worldwide one, we received a large number of responses along the lines of “We don’t celebrate thanksgiving in my country.” A few of our foreign correspondents were more helpful, however, with answers along the lines of “You see, us Cambodians have some different dishes… My favorite is Twah Go. It’s a Cambodian spicy sausage.” and “Ummm well as Brits we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so I suppose I could make one up. How about Spotted Dick & custard ?” Thanks for the suggestions, guys! When it comes to holiday food traditions, there’s always room for a few more.
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