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The First Thanksgiving Foods

Updated on November 22, 2014

Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving

Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving Book
Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving Book | Source

First Thanksgiving Foods were Different

If you were eating at the First Thanksgiving, you would discover that your Thanksgiving favorites might not have been served.

The foods served for that first meal were very different than what we typically think of as a modern Thanksgiving Feast with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie were not served.

Instead the Pilgrims dined on a more modest (and probably much healthier) meal of the foods that were available to them at the time.

Read on to discover the type of foods that were served at the First Thanksgiving. Perhaps you might include a few of these original Thanksgiving foods in your own Thanksgiving meals and traditions.

Image: Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving Book, available on Amazon.

The First Thanksgiving Food were Different and Healthier

Foods from the First Thanksgiving Meal

Accounts vary as to when the first Thanksgiving meal occurred. The Thanksgiving holiday is thought to have had its origins at a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The first recorded religious Day of Thanksgiving was held in 1623 after a larger harvest. In the mid-17th century an annual Thanksgiving meal began to be celebrated after the harvest. Thanksgiving has been observed annually in the United States since 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day.

The foods included in the first Thanksgiving meal were very different than what is typically served today at a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

The First Thanksgiving meal included:

  • Duck, Geese and Swan
  • Venison
  • Fish, Lobster, Mussels, Eel and Clams
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash and Corn
  • Cabbage
  • Red and white grapes
  • Red and black plums
  • Berries
  • Dried fruit

Of course all of these foods would have been wild-caught, organic, locally-grown pesticide and GMO-free. Seems to be a pretty healthy tradition to adopt.

The First Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving
The First Thanksgiving | Source

The first Thanksgiving foods were wild-caught, organic, locally grown, pesticide and GMO-free.

— Kirsti A. Dyer

Vote on First Thanksgiving Food

Which of the following First Thanksgiving foods would you like to try?

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The First Thanksgiving Food - Video

The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us

The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History
The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History

Robert Tracy McKenzie, author of The First Thanksgiving share his thoughts in the video clip above on what would have been at the First Thanksgiving meal.


First Thanksgiving Food on Wikipedia

The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three whole days providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Indians. The traditional Thanksgiving menu consists of turkey, pumpkin pie, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and so on. We may eat these foods on modern day Thanksgiving, but the first feast did not consist of these items.

On the first feast turkey was any type of fowl that the pilgrims hunted. Pumpkin pie wasn't on the menu because there were no ovens for baking, but they did have boiled pumpkin. Cranberries weren't introduced at this time.

Due to the diminishing supply of flour there was no bread of any kind. The foods included in the first feast included duck, geese, venison, fish, lobster, clams, swan, berries, dried fruit, pumpkin, squash, and many more vegetables.

read the rest of the Wikipedia article

Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner

Family Preparing Dinner, 1850's
Family Preparing Dinner, 1850's | Source

Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner

Image above: Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner available at

Meat, Game and Fish

Meat, Game and Fish on Amazon

Some of the Meat and Game available on the First Thanksgiving would have been:

  • Duck, Geese and Swan
  • Venison
  • Fish
  • Lobster, Mussels
  • Eel and Clams

Meat, Game and Fish available on Amazon for a traditional First Thanksgiving meal.

Corn, Squash and Pumpkin

Corn for Thanksgiving

There are many different ways to include Corn for Thanksgiving

  • Fresh
  • On the Cob
  • Canned
  • Frozen
  • Popped
  • Decorations

Add some corn for a traditional First Thanksgiving meal on Amazon.

Squash and Squash Soup on Amazon

Different squashes and squash soup for a traditional First Thanksgiving meal on Amazon.

Pumpkin and Berries on Amazon

Pumpkin and berries for a traditional First Thanksgiving meal on Amazon.

Dried Fruit

Dried Plums in the Amazon Spotlight

Dried plums would be on the menu for a traditional First Thanksgiving meal.

First Thanksgiving Books

If You Were At The First Thanksgiving Book

If You Were At The First Thanksgiving
If You Were At The First Thanksgiving

A book about about the first Thanksgiving for 4 - 8 year olds.

Also includes what it was like to live in America in the 1620's.


The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving
The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving

A classic book for children ages 4 to 8 that tells of the first Thanksgiving.


History of the First Thanksgiving Lens

The Thanksgiving Story

The Thanksgiving Story
The Thanksgiving Story

In this award winning story, the Hopkins family is followed during their first year at the Plymouth Colony.

The book ends with the first Thanksgiving feast.


First Book for Children

You can support First Books and help provide new books to children in need, addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy - access to books.

An innovative leader in social enterprise, First Book has distributed more than 65 million free and low-cost books in thousands of communities.

First Book now has offices in the U.S. and Canada.

You can support First Books, by sharing a book about Thanksgiving with a child.

Created for the Thanksgiving Cookoff for Charity

The First Thanksgiving Foods lens created for the Squidoo Thanksgiving Cookoff (for Charity) in 2009 to benefit another '"first," First Book.

If was gets selected, First Book would have received $1000 to buy books for children maybe even some books about The First Thanksgiving.

While this lens wasn't selected for the Cookoff, my lens on Five Kernels of Corn Story was selected and Kiva received a donation from Squidoo.

Purchases from this lens continue to benefit First Book.

What First Thanksgiving Foods Would You Like to Try?

Share your thoughts foods you might like to try in the comment section below.

© 2009 Kirsti A. Dyer

Comments on the First Thanksgiving Food

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    • lesliesinclair profile image


      6 years ago

      This lens is rich with enjoyment. I think it's healthy to be reminded of how extravagant our ideas about early Americans lived.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @KandDMarketing: I wonder if squirrels were part of the First Thanksgiving too?

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Michey LM: Thank you

    • KandDMarketing profile image


      6 years ago

      great lens! I was hoping for a venison roast for this year's meal, but, well, my neighbors decided to hunt near my property and every time I was trying to mentally coax a nice fat doe or buck out from behind the trees, BLAM! just the other side of the fence line someone started shooting and all the deer ran off into the deep woods. Ah well ... there are always squirrels ... ;)

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      6 years ago

      I always like to read a little bit of history, this is a great lens!

      Blessing! and Happy thanksgiving!

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Essentially Ind: We have some interesting traditions here in the U.S.

    • Essentially Ind profile image

      Essentially Ind 

      6 years ago

      This lens is really unique and beautiful. Loved this...........:)

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @TheChefsWife: I try to add in enough information to make these lenses educational too.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Celticep: Will you be serving some of the first Thanksgiving Foods at your meal?

    • TheChefsWife profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow! Great lens.... lots of resources and fantastic info... teachers could use a lot of this I'm sure.

    • Celticep profile image


      6 years ago from North Wales, UK

      Interesting to learn some of the history of Thanksgiving

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Shared via Pinterest and will also share on my Facebook page.

    • Rangoon House profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      This is a lovely history - thank you. Blessings.

    • spartakct profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is wonderful. I am bookmarking this for our unit study next year!

    • annleecakes profile image

      Trulee Ann 

      7 years ago from Arkansas City, Kansas


      Great lens sharing! As a Native American I agree the food then would not be the food now. :)


    • Judy Goldsberry profile image

      Judy Goldsberry 

      7 years ago

      Very interesting Lens I learned a lot.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      And I thought I knew a lot about Thanksgiving :) Very nice lens and great resources. Thank you. Blessed~

    • norma-holt profile image


      7 years ago

      They certainly had enough food back then. Great lens and nicely researched

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image


      7 years ago from UK

      Very interesting page on Thanksgiving, I enjoyed reading it . Thankyou

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A lens to be Thankful for. Wishing everyone a Wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving day.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very informative:)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very informative lens. Thanks, Dr. Dryer!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful lens! I'm a bit hungry now after reading that... blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Tagsforkids profile image


      7 years ago

      Another great lens, and certainly "food for thought" this Thanksgiving as we reflect on everything for which we are thankful. I hope you and your family enjoy the holiday! I would also like to give you a personal thanks for being the Giant that took me under your tentacles to help tremendously with the cause that brought me here to begin with. You'll never realize how much your help has meant to many over the years. Of course I also thank you for being the one to get me started with Squidoodling, which has become more than a hobby, but a passion! I could never thank you enough for the fun and pleasure it has provided. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • magicshine1 profile image


      7 years ago

      it's fantastic to know that there's more to thanksgiving than simply turkey!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Liked the Lens very well done.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Lens. I love the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, but when i was a kid we used to see a lot more original items added to the meal like duck, goose and pheasant. For a little boy or grown man this was a feast worthy of celebrating a good harvest.

    • wheresthekarma profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens!

    • LadyCharlie profile image


      7 years ago

      Very nice lens with some rich history. I enjoyed it!

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 

      7 years ago

      This was a nice read~ Beautiful history of Thanksgiving..

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks, you have a very lovely lens.

    • DieselJoe profile image


      7 years ago

      My kids will enjoy this, thanks.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 

      7 years ago from Florida

      I did not know this. Thank you for the information.

    • modernchakra profile image


      7 years ago

      The first foods sound even more delicious than our modern day cuisine... but the traditional value, even if just for a few generations, of turkey and stuffing, etc is quite nice and easy to find comforting year and year out. Great post.

    • NTxWriter profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens! I love history and don't feel that kids learn enough about our country's first traditions anymore. Thanks for all the wonderful info.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very well put together lens. Great job and Happy early Thanksgiving :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    • HeatherTodd1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the great post...Nice

    • scaguy profile image


      7 years ago

      I will share this! Good content! I enjoyed reading it very much!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      7 years ago

      This is something I could share come Thanksgiving.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I think this is my favorite Thanksgiving lens! Absolutely Beautiful History Lesson & more!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      wow...amazing thoughts!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice attribute to Thanksgiving. learned something this morning, thank you.

    • Julia Morais profile image

      Julia Morais 

      7 years ago

      Loved the history lesson. Great lens.

    • GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 

      7 years ago

      I was told at a very early age that the settlers ate goose meat. I was also led to believe that the Indians introduced the white man to beef jerky, specifically Slim Jim's. I was fed (pun intended) these lines by my parents who lied to me about Thanksgiving because all we could afford was jerky and goose road kill. Thank you for educating me about this holiday. If you'll excuse me I need to call my parents and tell them I will NOT be attending Thanksgiving this year due to their lies and heavily processed meats. Great lens doc!

    • iijuan12 profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      Great lens! We had a Thanksgiving party and actually tried many of the "authentic" recipes. We were surprised that it actually tasted pretty good. I posted the recipes and a children's play that we did here:

    • food monkey profile image

      food monkey 

      7 years ago

      great lens, I enjoyed the history lesson :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      An excellent Lens, thank you for sharing this with us. Will be featured on my new Autumn Celebration Lens.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      7 years ago from Colorado

      Quite the interesting menu. Swan, eh? I won't be making that, but perhaps I will add one of the other native dishes to this year's feast. Very interesting lens. Thanks!

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L B 

      7 years ago from Covington, LA

      Thanks for a great Thanksgiving and charity lens. Sprinkled with dust from the Angel of the farmyard on a Back to School Field Trip.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these information in this lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens! Love all the delicious food here.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Congratulations for being included on the Best of Lists, 75 Lenses You Shouldn't Miss This Thanksgiving by SquidTeam, and Happy Thanksgiving! - Kathy

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      It's very special to go back and read about the first Thanksgiving again. It's too easy to lose track of our roots. I'm thankful for this lens!

    • eccles1 profile image


      9 years ago

      You are probably right the thanksgiving dinner back than was healthier because there was no sugar!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Hi Kirsti ~ Your Thanksgiving information and selection of children's books is wonderful! Great lens 5*!


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