It is not really known exactly what they ate at that first feast -- the only items that we know were on the menu were wild fowl and venison.
Among the other items that could have been on the menu were:
- Fruit: Plums, Grapes
- Grain: Wheat Flour, Indian Corn
- Meat: Venison, Seal
- Seafood: Cod, Eel, Clams, Lobster
- Seasonings: Olive Oil, Liverwort, Leeks, Dried Currants, Parsnips
- Vegetables: Pumpkin, Peas, Beans, Onions, Lettuce, Radishes, Carrots
- Wild Fowl: Turkey, Goose, Duck, Crane, Swan, Partridge, Eagle
Many of what we consider staples of the Thanksgiving meal couldn't possibly have appeared at the feasting table of the pilgrims and Native Americans.
Pigs and chickens were not native of the area. The pilgrims brought some with them, but there is no evidence that the pigs were butchered to provide ham, or that that hens were still laying eggs.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes were not common, as the potato was considered poisonous at that time.
Corn had been dried by that time of year, but they did make a fried bread from the corn crop.
Because the colonists did not have sugar at that time, it is unlikely they had cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, but they did have a recipe for stewed pumpkin.
When Did Thanksgiving Become Official?
The feast was not repeated until June 29, 1676, when a day of thanksgiving was proclaimed.
In 1777, the 13 colonies joined together in a thanksgiving celebration to commemorate a victory over the British at Saratoga.
In 1789, President George Washington tried to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving, but experienced a lot of opposition, including from Thomas Jefferson.
Many historians believe that a writing campaign by magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale over 40 years finally led to Lincoln setting the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
Congress finally sanctioned Thanksgiving as a legal holiday in 1941, set for the fourth Thursday in November.
- Now that you've studied a little, try our Thanksgiving quiz and test your knowledge!