11. Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is better out of the can, which means that people who like homemade cranberry sauce are bougie or just want to show off.
I know turkey is the headliner of the Thanksgiving meal, but it’s highly overrated. The difference between a great turkey and a terrible turkey can be overcome with a little giblet gravy and some dressing. Plus, no one eats turkey by itself. It’s meant to be mashed up with some other shit. Turkey is basically a power forward who gets rebounds, plays good defense and protects the post.
Yes, if Thanksgiving is the Golden State Warriors of holidays, then turkey is Draymond Green.
All greens go together, here. Everyone knows that you have to wash your collard greens with care or you’ll get dirt in your mouth, which is why they fall so low in the rankings. I’m pretty sure I like collard greens and I eat them every Thanksgiving because I think I’m supposed to eat my vegetables. But if you have to put meat a vegetable, is it really that good?
8. Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are the most underrated of all the potato-related dishes. French fries get way more play and baked potatoes are literally just a hot potato. They don’t do anything but get all the glory. That’s potato privilege.
I come from South Carolina—therefore, rice is served at our Thanksgiving meals, but I’d low-key rather have mashed potatoes and gravy.
7. Smoked Ham
Again, ham is one of the few items that is allowed to come from the store, which means it is also one of the few white dishes allowed at black Thanksgiving. I don’t understand why there’s a pineapple on it, either.
6. Candied Yams
For years, my sister and I have been embroiled in a debate over who cooks the best candied yams. Even though we both use my mother’s recipe, it is clear that mine are better and her second-rate candied yams taste like an incorrect Final Jeopardy question and candy corn that’s been sitting under the passenger seat of a 1987 Buick Regal.
5. Macaroni and Cheese
The problem with macaroni is that it is one of those foods that depends on the skill of the person cooking, which is why most black families have to designate a macaroni maker in their Thanksgiving constitutional amendments. A perfect macaroni could rank number one, but a poorly made, soupy, cheese-deficient pan of macaroni can ruin a meal.
Furthermore, it is impossible to tell if a macaroni is inadequate until, as my family says, you “bust it open.” Busting open a macaroni and discovering a cheese-less Caucasian interior is one of the most disappointing things in life.
I know what I said about macaroni being dependent on the person making it, but it is easy to fix Kool-Aid by adding water or sugar. We won’t delve into ranking the flavors, but we will add that red Kool-Aid is the only Thanksgiving-appropriate Kool-Aid.
I want to write a grant that allows someone to go around the country and gather our best and brightest young Kool-Aid makers and give them scholarships to study chemistry. That’s how we close the STEM gap.
3. Assorted Thanksgiving Meats
This includes fried chicken, roast beef, pork-related meats (except chitterlings), neckbones, goat meat (it’s the Jamaicans in my family), fish, and whatever your uncle killed.
2. Gravy (tie)
Gravy is the unheralded savior of the Thanksgiving menu. Not only can some things not be eaten without giblet gravy, but it can also rescue many poorly made items. The correct way to serve gravy at Thanksgiving is to fix your entire plate and baptize everything with it.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
2. Sweet Potato Pie (tie)
When the Israelites were lost in the wilderness, God rained sweet potato pie down upon the children. Everyone knows Jesus fed a multitude with three fish, five loaves of bread, but most people don’t know there was sweet potato pie for dessert.
For God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten sweet potato pie recipe so that whosoever tasteth it shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Not stuffing, but dressing. I often think about the brave soul who invented dressing because I know he was marginalized when he told his family he needed to use the cornbread for something else. I bet they wanted to call the police when they saw him adding onions, but thankfully, someone allowed him to be great.
Dressing is Thanksgiving. It has cornbread and turkey juice. I don’t even know what sage is, but I know that you can’t make dressing without it. I also have no idea where the name comes from. What is being dressed? I just like the fact that it is an action verb. I’ve never thought about macaroni-ing but I dress every day.
And all the other foods are just foods, but dressing is associated with Thanksgiving specifically. I ate a turkey sandwich for Halloween, but I wait for Thanksgiving to eat dressing. In fact, the only way to tell when you should stop eating Thanksgiving leftovers is when all the dressing is gone.
It’s number one without a doubt.