9 Vintage Thanksgiving Side Dishes We Shouldn’t Bring Back

H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images

We all have that relative—the one who’s been bringing Miracle-Whip-bound pimiento-pea salad to Thanksgiving dinner since time immemorial. Although you may swear the recipe came straight from the devil, it turns out that lime Jell-O salads and their ilk were all the rage back in the day. Here are some more examples of vintage Thanksgiving recipes that should stay firmly in the past.

1. Cranberry-Mayo-Jell-O Candle Salad

Nothing complements the tart, refreshing flavor of cranberry sauce like gelatin mixed with salty, sulfurous mayo. This recipe also tells you to mold the mixture into cylinders, "garnish with real mayonnaise," and shove a real candle in there. Then, light it. Ostensibly, you’re supposed to eat around the melted wax, but we can’t be sure—maybe it’s considered a condiment.

2. Pork Cake

For bakers who are fresh out of eggs and butter on Thanksgiving morning, pork cake is just the ticket. Appearing in the November 1922 issue of Citrus Leaves, a magazine published by Mutual Orange Distributors of Redlands, California, the recipe calls for one cup each of brown sugar, molasses, ground lean salt pork, buttermilk, and raisins, plus flour, baking soda, and a bouquet of spices. Unfortunately, there are no directions for making the cake, but we can guess that it turns out pretty close to SPAM.

3. Creamed Onions

This once-popular Thanksgiving mainstay has been been shoved aside on Thanksgiving plates by sweet potatoes and other veggies. In some households, the idea was to pour creamed onions over the turkey, like gravy, to add a little moisture. This vintage recipe—calling for cream, cheddar cheese, and butter in addition to tiny onions—is definitely not what the cardiologist ordered.

4. Turkey Salad in a Festive Ring of Jell-O

This mid-century Jell-O ad suggests serving leftover Thanksgiving turkey not as a sandwich, but surrounded by a moat of wiggling cranberry gelatin. Surprisingly, this trend did not catch on.

5. Suet Pudding

England, a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving, has nonetheless given Americans a tradition of savory puddings to be served at the celebratory meal. Suet pudding—yes, the titular ingredient is solid beef fat—was evidently popular at early 20th-century tables. This 1910 recipe published in The Delineator magazine calls for flour, spices, milk, and finely chopped suet, which should be blended and packed into a buttered mold for at least three hours before serving.

6. Giblet Gravy

Giblets is the charming euphemism for the edible offal of poultry: heart, gizzard, liver, and so on. But just because you can eat it doesn't mean you should [PDF]. If you choose not to stir up a gravy made with giblets, lard, and turkey neck, at least remember to take them out of the Thanksgiving bird before roasting it.

7. Hot Dr. Pepper

You gotta give the good folks at Dr. Pepper a few points for trying. In the 1960s, Dr. Pepper executives came up with a solution for slumping sales during colder months: hot soda. Served with a thin slice of lemon, the beverage resembled a non-alcoholic hot toddy-slash-cough syrup. According to this vintage ad, it's "deliciously different."

8. Jellied Turkey-Vegetable Salad

A mid-century salad that manages to contain no fresh produce, this frozen Frankenfood blends cooked turkey and frozen mixed vegetables with gelatin, condensed soup, and "salad dressing"—which, in mid-20th century recipes, meant Miracle Whip. There’s only one way to improve on this dish: serve it ice-cold.

9. Deviled Ham Stuffing

A 1912 Underwood Deviled Ham ad featured a recipe for Thanksgiving stuffing with its signature product. Along with the bread crumbs, celery, apples, and walnuts, cooks were told to add the "bewitching, insinuating" canned meat to make enough stuffing to fill a large turkey.

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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The Long, Fascinating History of Chocolate

Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons//Public Domain

Walk into just about any grocery or convenience store today and you're sure to find row upon row of chocolate in every imaginable form. While we have come to associate this sweet treat with companies like Hershey, chocolate has been a delicacy for centuries.

All chocolate comes from the cacao tree, which is native to the Americas, but is now grown around the world. Inside the tree’s fruits, or pods, you’ll find the cacao beans, which—once roasted and fermented—give chocolate its signature rich and complex flavor. While we don't know who first decided to turn cacao beans into chocolate, we certainly owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

In this episode of Food History, we're digging into the history of chocolate—from its origins to the chocolate-fueled feud between J.S. Fry & Sons and Cadbury and much, much more. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here!