In between making hand turkeys and pilgrim hats, we learned that the colonists celebrated their bountiful harvest in the New World in 1621 by inviting Native Americans for a feast complete with turkey and all of the usual fixings: stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy. But it turns out those were tall tales we learned in elementary school. The pilgrims and natives probably stuffed themselves silly with venison, not turkey. So much for keeping that tradition alive!
There were a few forces at work to make turkey the meat du jour for Thanksgiving. Practically speaking, chicken and cows were more valuable to keep around for their eggs and milk than turkeys, which were farmed and hunted for their meat. Plus, one full-grown turkey was large enough to feed a family.
Now when one of your relatives starts talking about the first Thanksgiving during this year’s celebrations, you can drop some knowledge and help everyone steer clear of those dicier topics.