I have a confession to make -- my family is not having turkey this Thanksgiving. We’re having brisket. My sister and her husband are hosting the holiday at their house this year, and since neither one is a fan of eating turkey but both are big fans of barbecuing, they opted for brisket.
My husband was a little upset at the news, which is why we’ll be making our own, small turkey dinner on Saturday. How else are we supposed to have leftover turkey sandwiches? And turkey soup? And turkey casserole?
It’s not clear why turkey was chosen as the standout entrée from all the other options at those first Thanksgiving feasts. The Pilgrims probably ate plenty of lobster, fish, and deer, too. I suppose turkey became the favorite over the years because it has a mild flavor and a single large turkey can feed a group of people at a low price. Whatever the reason, the turkey has cemented its place as the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving feasts.
In fact, Gerry Thomas, an executive at the Swanson food company, claims that the modern-day frozen dinner came about thanks to Thanksgiving turkeys. One year, sales fell far below expectations, and the company found itself with train cars full of frozen turkeys. While trying to salvage the situation and not lose money on unwanted birds, Thomas came up with the idea to slice up the turkeys and create frozen dinners, complete with side dishes. While this story has been disputed (the Swanson brothers claim they designed the first dinners) and there is evidence that other companies were already making frozen meals, Swanson was definitely one of the leaders in successfully moving frozen dinners into mainstream America. And we may be able to thank Tom the Turkey for that!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving, with or without a turkey!