Thanksgiving Traditions From The Bygone Days That Are Nothing To Be Thankful For

By Jhoana C

Thanksgiving, that holiday on the last Thursday of November when everyone is supposed to look back at how far they’ve come and also think of the things they are thankful for. It’s also the time when families travel, get together, and enjoy a spread of delicious Thanksgiving foods in which the star of the night has always been the turkey. Aside from the massive roasted turkey, one is also bound to be introduced and induced to eat plenty of other dishes, even those which don’t particularly tickle your taste buds. After all, most dishes were lovingly prepared by family members. However, some Thanksgiving recipes are just too nasty for our palate that we can’t even pretend to like them, and boy are we glad that some of these Thanksgiving traditions have quietly faded away. We have compiled for you a list of Thanksgiving traditions people can’t believe once existed.

Would you like slimy jello “salad?”

We’ve put quotation marks on the word salad because we don’t consider this a salad. Salad to us means greens, dressing, and maybe a few croutons but not this. This lime green jello salad has walnuts, cottage cheese, and crushed pineapple.

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We can’t help but wonder how this tastes because we haven’t tried it and we are not excited to do so, too. The color and texture don’t sound or remotely look interesting. We are thankful that they don’t serve this anymore.

Another so-called salad

What’s with the so-called salads during Thanksgiving? Here is another variation, and this one’s called Coca-Cola salad. To prove to you that it’s real, here is the recipe. Make it at your own risk and see what people say about it.

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This ‘salad’ does not have any greens. There are only four ingredients, Coca-Cola, nuts, cream cheese, and orange jello. The salad was popular in the 1950s, and we’re glad that it stayed there because we don’t want it on our dinner tables.

The poultry centipede

This horrible creation is the poultry version of the Human Centipede. If you’ve seen the movie, you know it made people squirm, and we’re quite sure that this creation will have you feeling the same way. We understand that Thanksgiving is a big thing, but it isn’t an excuse to experiment on poultry.

Image courtesy of I, Engelmann/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

This atrocity is the Turducken and from the name alone, we know you can guess what it’s made of. They managed to fit the duck into the chicken and the chicken into the turkey. They deboned the birds and tucked them all in each other’s cavities.

The Holiday vegetable loaf

What is it with the ’80s and people’s love of weird foods? We are quite sure there was no more war and economies everywhere were quite ok, but why did they serve questionable dishes during special occasions such as Thanksgiving?

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Another dish that we’re glad people no longer serve today is the Holiday vegetable loaf. Look at the picture and tell us if it looks appetizing to you. It doesn’t right? Well, people used to slave away for hours in the kitchen to prepare it.

Orange Mallow Yam Yums

We love oranges, they are delicious and we particularly like our orange juice, but we have to admit that it has a particular flavor that makes it hard to combine with other ingredients. However, that didn’t stop people decades ago from experimenting with orange.

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They managed to create a dish combining oranges with yams and marshmallows baked with them. What were they thinking? Perhaps they wanted to give their frenemies diarrhea after Thanksgiving dinner? You should be wary of the people you spend Thanksgiving with.

Pea-lease help us all

We appreciate the time and effort parents and other family members spend laboring away in the kitchen just to come up with unique and delicious dishes to impress family members with during Thanksgiving. We know they slave away in the kitchen all day.

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The special occasion spent with special people deserves special and delicious dishes. However, Thanksgiving isn’t a good time to experiment. This person has had enough of their dad’s Pea Timbale which is steamed pureed pea soufflé. They may just stop seeing his parents during Thanksgiving.

Grape salad

Most people like grapes, both fruit and juice. However, only a few people have heard of grape salad, and we want to tell them they are lucky because this is the type of salad you don’t want anywhere near you.

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Having grapes in a salad already sounds weird but having grapes as the main ingredient in a salad is even weirder and it’s topped with a thick, mayonnaise-like dressing. It also has some types of nuts and flakes on top.

Betty Crocker’s unforgettable contribution

Betty Crocker is an institution when it comes to food. They are basically a household name. The brand and the fictional character have been advertising food and recipes for decades, and one of their most unforgettable contributions to Thanksgiving is ham mousse.

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The ham mousse was a classic in the 1960s and we are glad it has slowly disappeared over the years. Betty Crocker should just stick to perfectly baked goods and not venture into other areas such as savory cooking because this is horrendous.

Don’t let its looks deceive you

Don’t let the photo deceive you because this isn’t sweet jello salad. It’s far from it and if you want to keep your sanity, keep it away from your mouth because you’re not going to like it. What you see in the photo is Tomato Aspic.

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Aspics were first made in the United States in the 19th century and during that time, gelatin packets were not available in groceries yet, so gelatin was a time-intensive process. This is proof that not all labor-intensive dishes are delicious.

Stuffed celery, anyone?

We have heard of stuffed cabbage, and as a matter of fact, we can’t wait to try it. It’s popular in Russia and most of Eastern Europe and it looks delicious. However, we have never heard of stuffed celery. Have you?

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It doesn’t help that celery is not one of our favorite veggies, but how do you even stuff it in the first place? We’re sure that a lot of people are divided on this because most either love celery or hate it. Which group do you belong to?

Let’s go turkey bowling

Turkey is a staple during Thanksgiving and if the turkey is not on the table, then something is missing. Aside from being an important dish, turkey also serves other purposes, such as making a good replacement for a bowling ball.

Image courtesy Forderer

If you are ever in Newport Beach during Thanksgiving, you should visit the Lucky grocery store because, since 1988, the store has been hosting the yearly turkey bowling. No one knows exactly how the tradition started but patrons love it. 

Wanna join a turkey-eating competition?

Americans and much of the world love to eat, but no single country in the world has quite perfected the food-eating contest. To celebrate the skill of stuffing as much food in your mouth in as little time possible, there are hundreds of eating contests out there.

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One of them is the Thanksgiving turkey-eating contest which takes place in various states and cities all over the country. The current champion is Joey Chestnut who managed to eat 4 kilos of turkey in just 10 minutes, which sounds kind of painful.

Thanksgiving Turkey hack

The most familiar food on the Thanksgiving table is not that easy to prepare. One common gripe people have with turkey is that when it’s not prepared correctly, it could end up being too dry, and no one wants to eat dry turkey.

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A chef from Mississippi has come forward to help those having problems with their turkey. Regina Charboneau covers her turkey with anchovy fillets which help the bird become juicier when roasted, and the best part is there is no fish smell or taste remnants.

Does anyone remember hot soda?

Usually, when talking about soda, people envision cold beverages. Most people have not heard or tried hot soda even once in their lives. If you’re thirsty or enjoying your meal, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of gulping down cold soda.

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But would you be up for trying hot soda? A company purposely made hot soda decades ago and it was called Dr. Pepper. It was popular back in the 1980s, but there must be a reason why people no longer hear about it today.

Turkey with Cheetos crust

People may be familiar with how turkey is the star of the show during Thanksgiving, but not everyone knows that it can be prepared in many ways. Before anyone can perfect your turkey recipe, a few disasters have probably happened behind the scenes.

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Turkey with gravy, turkey without gravy, turkey with something else, the list goes on. The good thing is turkey is versatile, but this doesn’t mean that you should cook turkey covered with Cheetos crumbs. But don’t knock it till you try it, they say it’s good!

Salad for dessert?

Why do Americans tend to call almost any kind of food a salad, even if it’s a dessert? Aren’t salads made with greens, some protein, croutons, and dressing? What you see in the photo definitely does not qualify for a salad.

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This has cream, sugar, and some biscuit crumble. We haven’t seen any salad made with these ingredients and prepared like this before. This may be a Thanksgiving tradition for some families, but we are glad it’s not part of ours.

Cornbread forever

Aside from turkey, one of the most popular Thanksgiving foods is corn. A lot of records show that corn was very abundant during the first harvest. However, it wasn’t eaten the way people enjoy it today for the special occasion.

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Many American households today serve cornbread during Thanksgiving. It can be quite delicious when prepared the right way and when that happens, it’s often one of the first things that disappear from the table. But when prepared incorrectly it’s going to be one of the last things you see still on the table.

Time to get back at your teacher

Chances are you have already been expelled from school or gotten detention if you even attempted to throw a pie at your teacher’s face, but sometimes, the temptation is just too great. You just want to get even with your teacher for giving you a hard time.

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At North Technical High School in Florissant, Missouri, you can do just that. They have an annual pie-throwing competition held between students and teachers. During the autumnal event, students throw pies at the faces of faculty members around Thanksgiving time.

How do you make a salad out of cinnamon?

How do you make a salad out of cinnamon? Isn’t it supposed to only be used as flavoring? We are scratching our heads with this one. This salad supposedly only has three simple ingredients: red jello, applesauce, and red hots.

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This guy’s grandmother used to make it as an alternative to cranberry sauce. Why not just stick to good old cranberry sauce? There’s no need to replace it in the first place. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, remember?

Back in time when Miracle Whip was the thing

Travel back in time and remember the days when Miracle Whip was all the rage. Everyone couldn’t get enough of it and had to find ways to incorporate it into a variety of recipes and dishes at home. We’re glad those days are over.

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However, there are still remnants that take us on a walk down memory lane such as this monstrosity called canned pear topped with Miracle Whip. It’s just made of shredded cheddar cheese and maraschino cherries laid on a bed of iceberg lettuce.

Black Friday

Black Friday is one of the worst holidays brought about by Thanksgiving because it’s when people are just about ready to hit one another on the face just so they can get to that item on sale that they so badly want to purchase.

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It’s become an excuse for people to wrestle each other and throw all caution to the wind. It wasn’t even a thing until people decided that it was. Then, it resulted in people camping out in the Target parking lot just so they can be the first to enter the store.

Dungeness crab instead of turkey

This tradition in San Francisco is not weird. As a matter of fact, we like it, but it’s a little different than what most people are used to. Instead of serving the traditional turkey on the dinner table, they serve their popular Dungeness crab.

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The crab is prepared in a variety of ways. Either it’s boiled, steamed, microwaved. People can showcase all their culinary skills during this time and try to impress others with their crab cooking techniques. They do love their crab out there.

Wishbone cracking

The wishbone is a forked bone between a bird’s neck and breast. According to custom, when this boned is cracked by two people, the person who holds the longer portion gets to make a wish. This Thanksgiving tradition comes from the ancient Romans.

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The wishbone has to be completely brittle and dry before it’s snapped, so it’s quite difficult to crack a wishbone at the Thanksgiving table, but that doesn’t stop people from trying, though. Everyone wants to make a wish, but there can only be two people that play.

Dinner rolls

Dinner rolls are quite okay by themselves and we have nothing against the food. However, these carb-heavy clouds of dough take up so much space in your tummy that you won’t even have room to try other delicious food. That we have a problem with!

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When Thanksgiving comes around, it is best to steer clear of any and all forms of bread, and this includes crescent rolls and biscuits because they fill you up quickly. No one wants to tap out early during Thanksgiving dinner.

Green bean casserole

The green bean casserole was a popular addition to any Thanksgiving table and it managed to hold its place for more than 50 years. Thankfully, nowadays it’s nothing but a distant memory. We have never been happier to see any food go.

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The soggy staple has been buried in memories. The mixture of green bean and mushroom soup is so mushy and the only thing good about it was the crispy topping of French fried onions. You’re not the only one who thinks it sounds weird.

Ambrosia salad

Anything that includes Miracle Whip or Cool Whip in its list of ingredients doesn’t have any business on the Thanksgiving table. We all know all the bad things these whips lead to. Anything that has whips also can’t be called a salad.

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The ambrosia salad is something we’re happy to be rid of. Ask anyone who has tasted it and they will tell you that they don’t like it at all. If you want to serve fruit during Thanksgiving, just serve it as it is, no need to add whips or anything else.

Can’t afford a turkey, get some jelly

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This is something that should also apply to food, for instance, turkey. There’s nothing wrong with Thanksgiving turkey so there should be no reason to replace it with something else. Let turkey be a turkey.

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Turkey jelly has turkey in it and jelly too but it’s supposed to be a salad at the same time. Confused yet? We can’t even imagine anyone wanting to eat that. No matter how hard life gets, don’t even try this food.

Corn pudding

We have discussed cornbread on this list, and now we move on to its less popular cousin, the corn pudding. When done perfectly, it can be very tasty, but one of the biggest challenges is getting the texture just right.

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If not done correctly, it can result in something that is either too gelatinous or runny. We’re thankful that this isn’t popular anymore, because the thing is, there are better ways of spending your energy and effort than on corn.

Giblet gravy

Giblet is the culinary term used to refer to the edible parts of a fowl, such as liver, gizzard, heart, and other organs. Whole birds are often packaged with giblets as they can be used in several recipes, including gravy.

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Some people say the gravy is good, but others say they would rather stay away from it, especially after they see the internal organs. Some people just lose their appetite, and we couldn’t be happier we never see it on the table again.


We have nothing against vegans and vegetarians, and we respect their food choices. If you want to eschew meat, good for you, just don’t go imposing your beliefs on people who enjoy their fair share of meat. We say, to each his own.

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We are just confused why some food manufacturers go to great lengths to disguise non-meat alternatives and make them look like meat. A good example of this is tofurkey. What is the need to refer to it that way, and why not just call it as it is?

Thanksgiving cards

For some people, their favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and they often practice traditions such as visiting family, eating way more than you’re supposed to, and falling asleep on the couch while watching football. Another tradition that is not practiced that much today is giving out Thanksgiving cards.

Image courtesy of P.F. Volland Collection/Chicago Public Library

Yup, Thanksgiving cards used to be a thing even if most people don’t think of it as a card-giving holiday. In the late 1800s, mailing Thanksgiving cards became a practice, and if you go to the Chicago Public Library and look at the Volland Collection, you’ll see thousands of Thanksgiving cards.

More green things for Thanksgiving

Let’s face it, green is one of the least appealing colors when it comes to food, except for leafy green vegetables. This family’s grandma has a unique Thanksgiving food that she makes a point to prepare yearly, and it’s all green.

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Lime sherbet mixed with 7-Up served in ‘fancy’ crystal which we all saw our grandparents use during special occasions back in the days. The fancy bowl came with equally fancy matching glasses, too. Some people say this lime sherbet tastes good so we won’t argue with them.

A soup that’s also a cake?

This is another one of those traditions people are happy they no longer have to live with or pretend to like. No offense to grandma, because we’re sure she invested her time and effort to prepare this for the family, and we love her for it.

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But even her granddaughter admits that she doesn’t like this abomination of food that’s a hybrid of a soup and a cake, because who would? The name alone is quite weird, and it’s topped with creamy chocolate frosting! The horror!

Shrimp aspic

We all saw the tomato aspic at the beginning of this list, and now comes another variation, the shrimp aspic, and we don’t know if this is better than the tomato or worse. The main ingredients are shrimp, a few spices, black olives, tomato juice, onion, celery, and lemon jello.

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We have to admit that we are not fans of the ingredients. This lady says her family is divided when it comes to shrimp aspic. 50% of them love it and 50% of them hate it. That’s a controversial way to divide the family during Thanksgiving.

What in the world is this?

This dish is a little confusing and it seems like somebody who has no idea how to prepare food just threw together a whole bunch of ingredients and hoped that something would stick and make sense. We sympathize with this poor woman who had to deal with it since childhood.

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Imagine canned asparagus topped with melted Kraft cheese singles and covered with saltines. You can’t make any sense of it, right? We understand why it’s never eaten during Thanksgiving because who in their right mind would want to chow down on that?

Sweet potato pies?

When fall or autumn comes, people expect pumpkin spice flavors. After all, fall is the perfect time for preparing fruits and vegetables because there are plenty of them. Aside from pumpkin, one of the most popular flavors is butternut squash.

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But is sweet potato going to usurp them? Apparently not because it’s strange for most people. Yup, we enjoy sweet potatoes in different ways and when they’re prepared differently. However, we don’t quite like it when it’s baked with mallows on top and served with turkey.

More jello

Judging from this list, jello seems to be the most hated Thanksgiving thing, ever. Jello was invented in 1897 by Pearle Wait. He was in the midst of making a cough remedy in his home when he experimented with gelatine and accidentally produced a fruit-flavored dessert.

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This lady’s aunt serves pretzel ‘salad’ during Thanksgiving, but we all know what they mean when they say salad. The pretzel salad contains pretzels in strawberry jello topped with Cool Whip. Her aunt didn’t even consider it a dessert, but a side dish.

Who wants to dress up like a turkey?

Aside from eating turkey during Thanksgiving, did you ever think of dressing up like one? We know that Halloween is long over by Thanksgiving, but did you ever think of wearing a costume and parading on the streets? We didn’t think so.

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The Turkey Trot Charity encourages people to don a turkey costume in a bid to raise money and help address the different needs of the community and bring attention to a few issues such as childcare, food insecurity, and children’s summer camps.

Suffering succotash

If you were this dog trainer how would you feel about his mother’s succotash? Succotash is supposed to be a vegetable dish consisting of lima beans and sweet corn. However, some people also add in turnips, onions, potatoes, and bell peppers.

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This guy’s mom, however, only uses a can of corn, a can of mushrooms, and a can of beans. How is that supposed to taste like and most importantly why would you serve something like that during Thanksgiving? It sounds plain and boring.

The Watergate Salad scandal

When we hear the word Watergate, we can’t think of anything else but that political disaster and multiple cases of abuse of power which resulted in Nixon’s resignation. We never thought that there was also a salad with the same name.

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Watergate salad is also referred to as pistachio delight or Green Goop, and don’t ask us about the latter. It’s a dish made from pistachio pudding, whipped topping, canned pineapple, marshmallows, and crushed pecans. We love pistachio, but we’re just not digging this.

Spam for Thanksgiving anyone?

We don’t think of Spam as a Thanksgiving dish because it’s nothing special. We eat it for breakfast or every time we’re too lazy to think of something nutritious and fancy to prepare. But some people think it’s good enough for special occasions.

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This lady’s aunt brings her spam salad to Thanksgiving every year. It’s just a block of Spam mixed with a block of cream and topped with pineapple chunks and it’s served with Ritz. Do you think it was a hit? This lady never said so.