Left: What a centerpiece! From Betty Crocker’s Party Book, 1960.
Turkey has been and always will be the star of a traditional Thanksgiving menu, but 18th and early 19th century menus commonly featured multiple meats. Local game, like venison, often made an appearance. Recipes for mince meat pie and “Thanksgiving Chicken Pie” abound in historic text. And Sarah Josepha Hale, the Anna Wintour of the 19th century, insisted that turkey be served along side ham or tongue.
This menu, from Buckeye Cookery (1877) shows the true bounty and diversity of what could grace your Thanksgiving table in the 19th century:
But some believed turkey shouldn’t make an appearance on the Thanksgiving table at all. John Harvey Kellogg, of cornflakes fame, was an ardent vegetarian. He, like many early veggies, believed that animal flesh could make a man violent and destroy digestion. Below, two flesh-free menus from his kitchens:
It’s likely he may have also suggested a main course of Roast Protose with Dressing. Protose, a mysterious, early faux meat, was produced commercially up until the last decade. It was made from (possibly) some combination of peanut butter and wheat gluten.
And lastly, let’s kitsch it up a bit with a menu from Betty Crocker’s Party Book, published 1960. Please note the lemon jell-o and horseradish salad.
For historic Thanksgiving recipes interpreted for the modern kitchen, including pumpkin pie, squash, and stuffing, go here!