Thanksgiving is approaching, we were curious about what the first Thanksgiving was actually like. Did the pilgrims really eat turkey? And what did they drink – was it wine? Here is what we found out in our (extremely thorough internet) research.
The first Thanksgiving was really a celebration of the harvest. Native Americans from the Wampanoag had taught some of the Pilgrims how to harvest corn, fertilize crops, and how to fish, hunt, and gather. When fall came around, the Pilgrims were so pleased with their bounty, and the fact that they were still alive, that they decided to celebrate. The Pilgrims and the tribe sat down to feast for three days (or a week, accounts are sketchy).
What they ate and drank is hard to say for sure. They probably feasted on native game and birds, as well as fish. They would likely have served native fruits like plums and cranberries, as well as local vegetables like leeks, onions, and squash. They almost certainly did not have mashed potatoes and gravy (which is really, really sad in our view.)
Our real question is whether or not there was wine. Again, it’s hard to say. Some settlers may have brought wine across with them on the Mayflower, but if there was any alcohol is was more likely barley wine or beer, which they could have brewed themselves. Surprisingly, since apples were not yet available, cider wouldn’t have been part of the first Thanksgiving either.
While we certainly love the Thanksgiving tradition, we think our modern version, with mashed potatoes and FAT bastard, sounds a lot more fun (and yummy!) than the original.