By the numbers – how America gobbles up Thanksgiving
November 22nd, 2011
01:00 PM ET
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Roasted, non-brined white meat, white bread stuffing, canned cranberries, pumpkin pie, a good old fashioned hunger-induced family feud, and don't you dare skimp on the butter.

Welcome to a typical American Thanksgiving, according to our not-so-scientific but extremely festive polls on holiday behavior. Over 200,000 votes were cast in poll questions ranging from pie preferences and cooking methods to levels of meal prep panic and bad guest behavior.

As it turns out, Americans are a pretty traditional bunch of eaters, who don't fuss quite as much as sitcoms might have you believe, but they might need a reminder to defrost the turkey in time.

Read on - and don't forget the marshmallows.

White or dark turkey meat?
* White 48.49%
Dark 47.93%
No turkey – another meat 1.88%
No meat 1.7%

Lunchtime poll – How you gonna cook that turkey?

What's the best way to cook a whole Thanksgiving turkey?
Roast in a bag 17.2%
* Roast outside of a bag 28.28%
Sous vide 0.64%
Broil 1%
Smoke 6.41%
Grill 3.34%
Deep-fry 15.65%
Slow-cook / braise 5.56%
Boil 0.59%
Bake 18.96%
Other (please share below) 2.37%

Do you brine?
Yes – wet brine 33.94%
Yes – dry brine 4.96%
* Nope 38.2%
What's brining? 22.9%

Lunchtime poll – the stuffing kerfuffle

Dressing inside or outside the bird?
Inside 43.35%
* Outside 56.65%

For that matter, do you call it "stuffing" or "dressing"?
Stuffing if it's inside, dressing if it's outside 26.81%
* It's all stuffing 56.29%
It's all dressing 16.9%

Which of these ingredients are essential in your Thanksgiving stuffing?
Note – voting was multiple choice
* White bread 22.54%
Rye or other dark bread 5.43%
* Cornbread 14.67%
Wild rice 1.94%
White rice 0.46%
* Mild sausage 9.57%
Spicy sausage 4.57%
Oysters 2.31%
Nuts 4.3%
Chestnuts 1.86%
* Apples 6.95%
Raisins 2.85%
Dried fruit 2.95%
White Castle Slyders (seriously – it's a thing) 0.27%
* Mushrooms 7.32%
Plain old Stove Top 5.86%
Other 6.15%

Lumps in your mashed potatoes?
I like 'em chunky 14.98%
* A few are fine 55.31%
They've gotta be silky smooth 29.71%

Cranberries from a can – yea or nay?
* Yay! 54.89%
No way 45.11%

Sweet potato casserole – marshmallows on top?
* Of course! 46.81%
Not on your life 37.1%
What's sweet potato casserole? 16.09%

Pie preference?
* Pumpkin 50.57%
Apple 16.92%
Berry or other fruit 6.03%
Cream (banana, coconut) 3.68%
Nut 5.18%
Chocolate 5.42%
Other flavor 6.06%
No pie for me – another dessert 3.8%
No dessert 2.36%

Lunchtime poll – holding back on the holidays

Do you ever try to slim-down traditional Thanksgiving dishes?
* I wouldn't dream of it. 41.5%
If it won't make a flavor difference, I might. 19.45%
I try to whenever possible, but I don't go overboard – especially if it compromises the taste. 27.53%
No full-fat at my table! 4.13%
I don't do the cooking, but I would be SO mad if someone tried to pull that on me. 2.46%
I don't do the cooking, and I'd be grateful for the effort. 3.73%
I don't do the cooking, and I won't eat somewhere if I know they're going full-fat. 0.63%
Other 0.58%

Lunchtime poll – Thanksgiving preparation

How frenzied do you get about Thanksgiving meal preparation?
I start work waaayyyyy ahead of the date and make a big production of it. 4.36%
About a week ahead of time, I put all my ducks in a row, but I still end up panicked. 6.6%
I get it all together a week or do ahead of time, it it's a piece of cake. (Mmmm...cake...) 12.17%
* A few days ahead of time does the trick, and it works out just fine. 38.1%
Starting a few days ahead of time still leaves me freaking out. 4.17%
I start at the last second, but it all works out. 6.19%
My last second start tends to leave things in a mess 0.38%
I never host and I'm not responsible for any major dishes. 10.86%
We're super casual, so whatever happens, happens. 9.45%
And that's why we have restaurants. 2.88%
I don't bother with Thanksgiving. 3.38%
Other 1.45%

Lunchtime poll – Ack! I forgot the...

What staples have you failed to find in your cupboard or fridge on Thanksgiving?
Canned pumpkin 8.09%
Turkey 4.73%
Stuffing mix 5.58%
* Gravy mix 12.55%
Parsley 3.68%
Sage 9.63%
Wine or beer 9.14%
Potatoes 3.97%
Sugar 5.27%
Flour 6.56%
Salt or pepper 2.15%
Pans 11.34%
Other 17.31%

Lunchtime poll – Thanksgiving kitchen emergencies

What's the worst thing that's happened to you at Thanksgiving dinner?

* Turkey didn't thaw in time 17.32%
We ran out of an ingredient 4.23%
We ran out of food 2.15%
We forgot someone's favorite dish 3.02%
There was an injury in the kitchen 4.31%
A dish burned 5.83%
A dish just plain ol' flopped 9.26%
Someone got too tipsy 5.13%
* Big family fight 14.35%
Not enough place settings 0.82%
Not enough seating 4.77%
Broken dishes 0.99%
* It's been smooth sailing every time 17.99%
Other 9.82%

Lunchtime poll – holiday hullabaloo

Any drama at your family's Thankgiving meal?
Not even a little. Perhaps it's the Tryptophan. 15.4%
* Maybe someone's gotten cranky, but it was just from stress or hunger. 20.85%
Someone may get tipsy, but it's no big deal. 8.58%
It's the same relative (or their partner) every year! 13.15%
There have been one or two memorable blow-outs. 14.27%
Armageddon – every year, and I dread it. 8.42%
It's a mess, and I kind of enjoy it. 7.94%
I celebrate with friends, and they behave just as badly. 0.72%
I spend it with friends, and it's pretty smooth sailing. 6.26%
I don't celebrate Thanksgiving, precisely because of this. 2%
I don't observe Thanksgiving for another reason. 1.2%
Other (please dish it up below) 1.2%

Lunchtime poll – the vegetarian at the Thanksgiving table

Should a meat-eating Thankgiving host be expected to accommodate a vegetarian guest?

You come to my house and you eat what I serve you. It's rude not to. Just pick the meat out. 3.07%
If I'm given fair warning, I'll make one or two things they can eat. 29.2%
* If I invite them, they're my responsibility and I'll put a lot of effort into their dishes. 42.72%
If they won't eat meat, I won't even it allow it on the table. We'll all be vegetarians today. 0.84%
I won't make anything special, but they're free to bring their own. 7.62%
I would be deeply offended if someone brought their own food to my house. 0.32%
Vegetarians aren't welcome in my house. 1.61%
Meat eaters aren't welcome at my table. 1.54%
I don't serve meat at my house, so it's not an issue. 11.92%
Other (please share below) 1.15% (190 votes)

Need more Thanksgiving tips? We've got you covered: Thanksgiving is coming; refrain from freaking out

Posted by:
Filed under: Bite • Buzz • Holidays • Lunchtime Poll • Thanksgiving


soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Angelica

    I am grateful that we are able to afford a thanksgiving meal, that I have the capability to get up and cook, that I have a place to have my meal, that I have family to sit down with and that I am creating memories for my children to remember. For me, Thanksgiving is a beautiful tradition. There are people who don't have these things, I don't take them for granted.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • KathyM

      That was lovely.

      November 22, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  2. Laura

    Worst disaster was a few years back when my mom hosted Thanksgiving. She started cooking in the morning and some of her cockatiels started dropping dead. Turns out, the oven liner had teflon on it, which is highly toxic to birds. This ended up killing her 8 cockatiels, some of which were dying over a couple hour period. In the meanwhile, my mother was in tears trying to finish cooking all the food since she was having many guests over. She did not end of eating any of the food and now refuses to celebrate Thanksgiving.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  3. Nanci

    Worse disaster: Cat ate the turkey – we laughed and ate other stuff.

    November 23, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  4. Mary

    I just discovered this year's disaster – the smell of something decaying (most likely the mouse that I've been hearing as it scurries around the ceiling) behind the dining room wall. Sure hope the smell of roasting turkey will overcome the awful odor!

    November 23, 2011 at 6:41 am |
  5. Avenger

    White bread stuffing??? Ewwwwww!!! What's stuffing? It's DRESSING and it always has cornbread!!!! No cornbread, no dressing.

    November 23, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  6. Always Discounts

    I know of a place where it is always Black Friday. There are always discounts, savings, and coupons. Free shipping is another big bonus. We all need to save a lot these days. Why not try something different and get a whole lot more for buck. http://www.isavesmart.com/onlinestores/amazon-store.html

    November 23, 2011 at 3:36 am |
  7. Cindy

    Yes, where is the pecan pie, indeed?
    Wouldn't be a real Thanksgiving dinner without one!

    November 23, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  8. rick

    ok...stuffing without onions and celery....give me a break

    November 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  9. nonni

    Ah I love Thanksgiving. It is at my house this year. All the family coming in from all over. It will be crowded, loud and drama-filled. I will do all the cooking and someone will miss something, not like the way I cooked a dish, inquire if I used organic, will panic over something being vegetarian or vegan, something will get broken, tears will be shed, televisions will be shouted at, laughter will fill the house and shopping strategies will be shared. I will swear I never want to host again, and will start planning for everyone being here for Christmas. I swear our family is the inspiration for a couple of the National Lampoon movies, but I love them all and wouldn't trade a minute of it. That is what family is and I am thankful for all of them. There will be praise, there will be complaints and we will all survive.

    November 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • FamilyFun

      Sounds like an awseome place to be! Just what togetherness means...

      November 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  10. Charlotte

    LOL – worst thing: kitty paw prints across the pumpkin pie (same year that the sink backed up). Staple not in the cupboard? Whipping cream, maybe. I would have to ask WT*F is "gravy mix" and why would any self-respecting cook do anything but make REAL gravy from scratch? Something called "Gray mix" is hardly a staple! Marshmallows – no WAY. I detest candy mixed in with my real food. Save it for dessert if you like sweets.

    November 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  11. I, robot coupe

    Woo! Thanksgiving!

    November 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  12. Laura

    As a vegetarian, I never want anyone to go to the extra effort to accomodate me by making special food. I have never had a problem finding plenty of side dishes that fit my eating preferences. Usually, I cannot eat 2-3 dishes out of 15 for Thanksgiving. I will have plenty to choose from and will be very grateful.

    November 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  13. Carole

    Where's the pecan pie?

    November 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Laura

      I think they classified it as "Nut." Pecan Pie is my favorite pie and a must-have at Thanksgiving.

      November 22, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  14. irish21

    Solid English Denverchub.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  15. Denvercherub

    Thanksgiving is a gross tradition... Most people don't even acknowledge the thankful aspect, just the gorging of that nasty feast.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Tater-salad

      My just a bit cranky aren't we...sorry you don't have anything in your life to give thanks for. Yes we do eat. We eat at a table with our whole entire family and it's FANTASTIC.

      November 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Kathleen

      What kind of person kvetches about a harvest feast?

      November 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
      • PCH

        Made me laugh out loud.

        November 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Truth™

      You don't get !@id very often do you?

      November 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Sandy

      The tradition of giving thanks is gross? Just because some people don't bother to think about what they're thankful for before sharing a meal with friends and family does not make the whole holiday a wash ... unless you're looking for reasons to hate things and be miserable. (Hopefully you overcome this tendency and have a nice holiday anyway.)

      November 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
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