What Was Served at the First Thanksgiving Meal?

Historians believe that shellfish, wild fowl and five deer were served at the first Thanksgiving meal at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in November 1621. The meal celebrated the autumn harvest and is believed to have included the meat of geese, turkey, ducks and the deer, which were brought as a gift to the English settlers by the people of the Wampanoag tribe. The meats are thought to have been stuffed with onions, nuts and herbs, rather than the bread-based stuffing of modern Thanksgiving meals. Flour and sugar typically were not available in the area at that time, so historians do not believe that any desserts were served at the first Thanksgiving meal, and potatoes had not yet made their way into the country.

More about Thanksgiving:

  • Thanksgiving Day was not an official annual holiday in the US until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the holiday to be observed each year on the last Thursday in November. The holiday was changed to the fourth Thursday in November starting in 1942.
  • About 90% of Americans serve turkey at their Thanksgiving meals.
  • The first Thanksgiving celebration is believed to have included sporting events, such as target shooting and stool ball, a game that is similar to cricket.
More Info: history.com

Discussion Comments


Speaking of Thanksgiving, has anyone here ever heard of a movie called Free Birds? It's an animated comedy that came out back in November. The story revolves around a turkey named Reggie who lives on a farm. However, after a while, he becomes suspicious, and finds out that there's more to the farm than it seems; it's a slaughterhouse.

Eventually, he uses a time machine to go back into the past and tries to prevent Thanksgiving from ever happening. It was a horrible movie, but it had some very funny concepts. For example, at the end, he changes Thanksgiving by introducing pizza to the Indians.


@RoyalSpyder - Well, there are people who eat ham during Thanksgiving, which is a nice change of pace. However, that might be unusual to some, because turkey is the main tradition and having anything else besides that would "break" it. However, you make some good points. There's nothing wrong with following a tradition, but we can often become wrapped up in what we feel is the "right" way to do things.


If ninety percent of Americans eat turkey during thanksgiving, then what do the other ten percent eat?


Does anyone else feel that we're following a little too strongly with the Thanksgiving tradition? I understand that people like turkey and all, but wouldn't a little variety be nice? Considering how the article states that 90% of Americans serve turkey at Thanksgiving, maybe it's time for a little change of pace. Then again, it's also mentioned that shellfish, fowl, and even deer were served during the first Holiday meals, which is pretty interesting.

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