Food & Dining

Top 5 Thanksgiving Things to be Thankful For

The turkey is a majestic, stately bird with truly magnificent plumage – but that head! Like something out of a horror film or science-fiction movie about aliens.

As you ponder what to be thankful for this year, NOT having a head like a turkey should be at the top of your list. Unless you do, in which case you can be thankful that you’re not being served up on a Thanksgiving platter (unless you are, in which case – SORRY!).

turkey, big bird, plumage, feathers, autumn, colorful, fall, food(Turkey: Tyler Donaghy via Unsplash)

This big bird is said to have first been found in North America (what is today Mexico / Southern U.S.) in the 1500s by Spanish explorers. In subsequent decades / centuries, turkeys were brought to Canada and the more northerly parts of America.

Other Thanksgiving-Related Things to be Thankful For

1. Turkey – If you’re the Thanksgiving chef, you can also give thanks that turkeys are a pretty forgiving bird when it comes to roasting them. Years ago, friends of ours new to Canada were given a complimentary turkey, but had no idea how to cook it. They resorted to boiling it – NOT a recommended method. You can roast a turkey breast side up or down; with or without stuffing; you can buy them fresh, frozen, and even frozen and pre-stuffed. 

That’s all the easy part; where it gets tricky, is how to store the bird after you buy it; whether it should be thawed or not, and if so, how & when to do that (if you bought it frozen); and how long to cook it for. Follow USDA & Government of Canada for turkey storing, thawing, & cooking guidelines

If you’re not the Thanksgiving chef, you can be thankful that you don’t have to do any of the above. 

2. Pumpkins – Let’s all be thankful that some bored and ingenious person(s) way back in the mists of time, discovered multiple uses for a big, tasteless orange vegetable – or is it a fruit? – other than letting it rot on the vine. Thanks again to Mexico, where pumpkin seeds around 7000-5000 years old have been found. Historically pumpkins were a food staple of North American Natives, but more recent traditions here include using it in autumn decorations, for carving as Hallowe’en jack-o’-lanterns (thanks to Irish immigrants), and baking in pies. 

3. Pumpkin Spice – Of which pumpkin is not even one of the elements!  A blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, pumpkin spice takes expensive coffees, teas, cookies, muffins, pies, bread, even ice cream, etc. to another level. It’s most important element? Your imagination, in converting spices which make up a great smell, into a great taste. Although these spices were often used together in baking as far back as the 1700s, pumpkin spice was first made commercially in the 1930s. It’s popularity exploded when Starbucks introduced Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003.

4. Whipped Cream – How about a heartfelt “thanks” for whipped cream – and the genius that came up with a way to put in an aerosol spray can – as a topping for pumpkin pie, which is otherwise “meh”? Also a great finishing touch for those fancy coffees, teas, muffins, etc. Not to mention other uses for this delicious “dessert topping” which inventive minds can have a field day with. Different sources attribute the invention of this marvelous product to different people. Thanks must go to both the earliest known source, which seems to be University of Illinois grad student Charles Getz, who discovered how to compress it in a container (c. early 1930s); and to “Bunny Lapin” who patented Reddi-Wip, once the leading aerosol whip cream brand, in 1955. 

5. Modern Refrigerators – Be deeply thankful if you have a large modern fridge to safely store delicious Thanksgiving foods before and after your holiday feast. First invented in 1834, and not commonly found in most homes until the 1910s-1920s), for centuries folks relied on much more labor-intensive alternative ways to keep food cold. Cutting huge blocks of ice from frozen rivers and lakes was the most common method. Where to store these huge blocks of ice was another problem, and the solutions (storing them underground or building insulated ice houses) weren’t within the means of most people. Around the 1800s, ice began to be transported by truck, trains, and ships all around the world; consumers would buy a block of ice and keep it in a lined wooden box in their home (hence the term ice box)

Regardless of what you’re thankful for this year, here’s wishing you a very, very,

Happy Thanksgiving

Other Resources: 

17 Uses for Pumpkin spice Mix and How to Make It, by Academy of Culinary Nutrition 

More Thanksgiving Stuff:

Thanksgiving Day Fun Facts & Videos

A Vintage American Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Day Greetings

Classic Film Stars Thanksgiving Cards

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & writer Anita Hamilton's articles are inspired by real historical events, places, and people. Her travel experiences, a lifelong keen interest in history, art, vintage music, books, silent films, classic movies, "golden age" television shows, fashion, & entertainment in general - combined with years of research - make her a subject matter expert with acquired knowledge & expertise on these topics. This, and a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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