Pilgrim Seasonings

Plymouth Colony Foodways: Notes and Recipes from a 17th Century Kitchen

Thanksgiving Myths – One Chapter

November 2nd, 2012 by KM Wall

Myth: Popcorn and the First Thanksgiving

Turkey stuffed with popcorn

The meal was a rude one looked upon with the dainty eyes and languid appetites of to-day, but to those sturdy and heroic men and women it was a veritable feast, and at its close Quadequina with an amiable smile nodded to one of his attendants, who produced and poured upon the table something like a bushel of popped corn, – a dainty hitherto unseen and unknown by most of the Pilgrims. All tasted, and John Howland hastily gathering up a portion upon a wooden plate carried it up to the Common house for the delectation of the women, that is to say, for Elizabeth Tilley, whose firm young teeth craunched  it with much gusto.

-Jane G. Austen, Standish of Standish (1889)p. 281.

  1. 1889 is not 1621
  2. A novel is not a good source of history.
  3. The image of Elizabeth Tilley’s  ‘firm young teeth’ is rather haunting, and not in a good way.
  4. Popcorn is a variety of corn that wasn’t found on the Eastern Seaboard in the 17th century.
  5. A good story is hard to kill.
  6. In 1982 Jack Prelutsky’s It’s Thanksgiving collection of children’s poems includes…..


The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

by Jack Prelutsky

The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air.
It knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with a deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows.
It totally coated the floor.
There was turkey attached to the ceiling
where there’d never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance.
It smeared every saucer and bowl.
There wasn’t a way I could stop it.
That turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure

and thought with chagrin as I mopped
that I’d never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn’t been popped.

In the last several years there have been a number Youtube videos and blogposts accounts of the popcorn popping out of the turkey theme….popcorn and Thanksgiving, popcorn popping out of turkey – MYTH



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One Response to “Thanksgiving Myths – One Chapter”

  1. Pheasant Dinner says:

    That is the coolest “turkey stuffed with popcorn.” What a cool creative idea with a terrific poem to go with it. Thank you for that, I hope you won’t mind if I forward your blog URL to friends whom I know will enjoy.

    After reading your poem, I thought you would enjoy this story…

    It was a perfect Thanksgiving Day … friends and family gathered ’round … golden brown turkey … guests were seated at a beautiful table. But out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving in the kitchen. I did several double takes before I realized what I was seeing. There was a small furry tail sticking out of the back end of the turkey! We went into the kitchen and, sure enough, here was the brand-new tabby kitten we had adopted earlier in the week, Inside the turkey eating to his hearts’ content! He had evidently been there awhile, because when we tried to pull him out, his little belly was SO big and full, we could barely budge him! We were all laughing hysterically and always remember the Thanksgiving that “Dexter” was in the Bird! Dexter grew up to be a beautiful 30-pound, double-pawed tabby. We’re convinced that, as a kitten, his first Thanksgiving contributed to his extra-good appetite, which he carried with him throughout his life. Dexter was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1987. We smile every Thanksgiving as we look in the kitchen at the turkey on the counter.
    — Linda Feldmann
    Mashpee, Massachusetts

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