Turkey Day Countdown: Food, Family & Football

There’s only ten days until Thanksgiving. It might seem like a lot, but if you have a feast to finalize, guests to prepare for and a holiday checklist that seems to keep getting longer as the festivities draw closer, it’s better to get anything and everything you can done so you won’t be too stressed out when the holiday arrives. Get the facts about Thanksgiving, from menu ideas to some Turkey Day history with these Thanksgiving articles.

The Thanksgiving Menu

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Ideas for Thanksgiving Sides
Who you share Thanksgiving with probably won’t change, but you can change the food to spice things up a bit. Turkey is the main dish that everybody wants, but playing with the sides to change up your Thanksgiving spread is a great way to make your dinner unique! Here are some ideas for Thanksgiving sides you can try.

What Was Really on the Menu at the First Thanksgiving
Roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. It may surprise you to learn that such traditional foods, with the possible exception of the turkey, were not served at the very first Thanksgiving in 1621. If you are wondering what was served at the First Thanksgiving in America, read on to dig into a helping of history.

Get Cooking on Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Dinner Disasters and How to Avoid Them
When you’re cooking a holiday meal for family and guests, there are many hats you have to wear and many mistakes that can be made. But if you know what to do and what to watch out for, you can pull off the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Here are a few tips to avoid some of the most common Thanksgiving dinner disasters.

4 Tips to Pull Off A Perfect Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving dinner is a huge production that requires strength, stamina and coordination. But even if you possess all of those characteristics, something is bound to go off the rails. It’s possible to reduce your risk of dinner disasters if you know what to look out for. Pull off the perfect Thanksgiving with these four useful tips.

The Facts About Thanksgiving Football

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Thanksgiving Football: An American Tradition
American football has been a Thanksgiving tradition since the 1800s. Even though football is a tradition, it looks a lot different now than it did long ago. If you’re wondering why the Lions and Cowboys always get to play on Turkey Day or where the tradition started, take a look at this brief history of Thanksgiving football.

How to Work Football Into Thanksgiving Without Ruining Family Time
Thanksgiving is a day for family. For many families, it’s also a day for football. While most NFL and college teams have the day off, there’s always a shortlist of squads who have to suit up, storm the field and keep the long-standing American tradition alive. Here are a few tips to balance football with family on Thanksgiving.

5 Thanksgiving Facts You Didn’t Know

Thanksgiving-FeastThanksgiving is about more than just great food and family; it’s also one of the most interesting holidays from a historical perspective. Many of the facts that you think you know about the real history of Thanksgiving aren’t quite the way they were portrayed in school plays though. Read on to discover more about the hidden history of Thanksgiving and find out some fun facts about how we celebrate it today.

Thanksgiving Day Was Really a Weekend

The first Thanksgiving at Plymouth wasn’t a one-day event. Like modern Turkey Day fans, they ate leftovers – three days’ worth of them, in fact. The weekend-long feast celebrated an excellent harvest, and the food that the Massasoit and other native Americans brought to the table was a welcome addition to an already bounteous meal, rather than a gift to hungry Pilgrims as is often portrayed. Like most harvest festivals, the event lasted long enough to let all the revelers eat their fill many times over while putting away supplies for the long winter.

The First Thanksgiving Menu Was Different from Today’s

If you imagine the first Thanksgiving as something pretty close to what we eat today, give or take a green bean casserole, think again. Turkey, or at least some kind of poultry, was on the menu, but it played a supporting role to the main dish: venison. According to the Smithsonian, corn porridge or pudding was also on the table, but mashed potatoes were nowhere in sight. If there was stuffing, it was probably whole onions and herbs, not bread; wheat fields weren’t yet well established, so bread-based stuffing, dinner rolls and pie dough weren’t part of the feast. Although the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag probably ate pumpkin during the meal, it wouldn’t have been in a dessert because there was no sugar. The original Thanksgiving at Plymouth could have included fish, oysters and clams, all of which were plentiful.

Traditional Thanksgiving Foods Have a Victorian History

One of the first magazines for homemakers, the Godey’s Lady’s Book encouraged home cooks to be adventurous for important feasts, and Thanksgiving was no exception. Many of the foods we think of as traditional Thanksgiving fare today were exciting novelties to the Victorian palate, including mashed potatoes, jellied cranberry sauce and spiced pumpkin pie. Sarah Hale, the magazine’s editor, was one of the biggest proponents of an established national holiday for Thanksgiving and did her best to popularize the holiday. We still celebrate it today more than 130 years later, so her efforts clearly worked well!

Calories, Not Tryptophan, Are Why You Need a Thanksgiving Nap

Almost everyone loves to take a nap after the big Thanksgiving meal, but most people blame it on the turkey. A naturally occurring amino acid called tryptophan is associated with putting people to sleep, and cooked turkey is high in the compound. Originally, researchers put these two facts together and assumed the tryptophan was putting everyone into a turkey torpor, but it’s really everything you eat, not just the bird, that makes you need a nap. A traditional Thanksgiving meal can contain thousands of calories, and your body has to focus more energy on digesting such a big mouthful. Your brain makes you sleepy, so you’ll stay in one spot and digest.

Football on Thanksgiving Is Older Than You Might Think

When you take that Thanksgiving nap, chances are good that a football game will be on the TV, but the tradition of football on Thanksgiving Day predates television by decades. The first officially recognized NFL season was in 1920, and that year, six games were played on that Thursday. None of the teams from that year are still around, but the Akron Pros beat the Canton Bulldogs 7-0. Today, only three Thanksgiving games are played, but the audience they draw is considerably larger.

Thanksgiving may have come a long way from its roots, but one thing about the holiday hasn’t changed: It’s still a time for gathering to offer gratitude for good company and great food.