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The #1 Definitive Ranking of Thanksgiving Foods

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching most of us are excited to see some family, watch the parade or Thanksgiving football, and do whatever our traditions are for the holiday. Most importantly, we’re going to absolutely crush a feast of Thanksgiving food.

Now while everyone’s Thanksgiving meal is inevitably different, I’ve done some quality research to determine the 5 most common Thanksgiving foods, and have come up with a 100% (give or take 80%) accurate Thanksgiving food ranking.

5. Cranberry Sauce
You can find cranberry sauce on almost every Thanksgiving table throughout the country on the last Thursday in November. However, it has absolutely no business being there, because it’s terrible. About 5 percent of all of you reading this are thinking “no way cranberry sauce is so good!” Unfortunately, while I respect your opinion, most of us would agree it is just wrong. First of all, cranberry sauce in many cases isn’t even a sauce. It’s like slices of Jell-o, with arguably the worst fruit flavor for said Jell-o. I really don’t understand how it even got in the lineup for Thanksgiving, but somewhere along the road, maybe even at the first Thanksgiving back in our pilgrim days, someone, I assumed who owned a cranberry farm, demanded that it be included and probably paid everyone there to eat it and pretend it was good so they could feel better about their profession. Cranberry should only be in juice form. It also only belongs with vodka.

4. Green Bean Casserole
Coming in at number 4 we have green bean casserole. The thing about this dish is that it is completely different depending on where you go. If 100 families brought their green bean casseroles to a Green Bean Casserole Cook-off, most of them would taste drastically different. Some cook it hot, some cold. Some are sweet with maybe some sort of fruity vinaigrette, others more savory. Some of you may think this should be higher up. Congratulations, you’re at a household with a solid green bean casserole recipe. Give a call right now to whoever cooks the casserole and thank them for their service. If you’re sitting there and thinking to yourself “I haven’t eaten our family’s green bean casserole in years,” let me be the first to offer you my condolences. The good news is at the end of the day, the worst green bean casserole is still better than any cranberry sauce.

3. Turkey
There’s a reason that most of us rarely have a cooked turkey on any other day besides Thanksgiving. It’s just not a great meat. We all have debated white vs dark meat, but the reality is that we would take chicken over turkey. In fact, at my last Friendsgiving that I hosted, I served the “turkey” already shredded and seasoned in olive oil and some spices. I explained that I only had white meat. Everyone commented how good the turkey was, only for me to tell them that the reason it was so good was because it was actually chicken. So why am I putting turkey at number 3 on the list? For 3 reasons.
First, Thanksgiving provides an environment of nostalgia. We see family that we may see only once a year. Everyone hangs out and stuffs their faces and watches football in what, for everyone but my mother at least who hosts every year, may be the most relaxing holiday of the year. As I mentioned before, some people may only have turkey cooked in that fashion once a year. So turkey has become more than just a meat, it’s a piece of a nostalgic experience. In my opinion, our brains legitimately perceive turkey as better than it actually is because we are in that positive, unique environment.
Second, turkey is the sole provider of protein at Thanksgiving. We absolutely demolish carbs on Thanksgiving. Everything we eat besides turkey is high carb content. So turkey gives us the protein our body needs to give us some semblance of health during the most gluttonous gathering of the calendar year. This is especially important if you’re into fitness. In order to justify my Thanksgiving feast, I always hit a monstrous workout a few hours before Thanksgiving. That way I’ve earned the right to stuff my face for an hour straight at the kid’s table, which I am still unable to escape. Without turkey my body wouldn’t get that protein satisfaction that it needs. I honestly wish I could thank my turkey individually while it is alive for that gift.
Third, turkey is number 3 because green bean casserole is inconsistent. We talked about that before. A great green bean casserole is better than turkey. A bad green bean casserole is worse than turkey. Turkey is consistently average, and therefore leaves no guessing for whether or not you will enjoy it at a certain level. Consistency is key.

2. Mashed potatoes
Coming in as a very strong runner up is mashed potatoes. I shouldn’t have to say it, but gravy is obviously implied here (side note: gravy should be on every part of your meal on Thanksgiving). Mashed potatoes are like pizza and tacos: even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty dang good. Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods on the planet. We’re talking fries. We’re talking baked potatoes. We’re talking scalloped potatoes. We’re talking…vodka! Potatoes can do it all, but on Thanksgiving it is a generally accepted principle to cook them mashed. I don’t think many people will argue that this choice is too high, and a lot of you will argue that it should be number 1. There’s just something about that creamy mashed potatoes covered in gravy that hits different. However, I have to put it at number 2 because….

1. Stuffing
…stuffing is just too good. I have never even looked into what stuffing is. I assume it’s some sort of soft casserole version of croutons. Whatever this delicious treat is, it is the best food on the table at Thanksgiving. While my mom will probably call me to argue after she reads this, here’s why she, and any of you other doubters, are wrong.
First, stuffing makes turkey tolerable. For those of you that do a traditional stuffing-inside-the turkey approach, aka the reason it’s called stuffing, stuffing takes the blandness of turkey and turns it into a delicious combo meal. When stuffed in the turkey it absorbs the turkey juices as well, improving upon the already delectable flavor of stuffing. Even if you don’t stuff the turkey, as my family does not, stuffing combined with turkey in each bite again compliments the turkey so you don’t realize how bland this second-class meat really is. Thank you stuffing, you truly are a team player
Second, stuffing has the same nostalgic appeal as turkey, but with actual delicious taste. Just like turkey, you’re probably not eating stuffing every week. I love stuffing. I have two boxes in my cabinet right now, but the honest truth is I have had them there since the week after last Thanksgiving when I bought them. Besides a typical Thanksgiving meal what does stuffing even go with? I’m not buying a turkey in June. So stuffing has that nostalgia where you eat it once a year and you’re like dang, this is so good. This is what inches stuffing ahead of mashed potatoes. Even if I were to think mashed potatoes were slightly better…which I’ll never admit…stuffing still takes home first prize on Thanksgiving day.

Here’s a great Stove Top Stuffing commercial proving the greatness of stuffing:

Now that you’re aware of this completely accurate ranking, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. Feel free to argue any of your opinions in the comments section. I always look forward to a healthy debate!

I will leave you with a couple Thanksgiving pointers to maximize your day:
1. Workout first — you’re going to consume a ton of calories. I promise you that you’ll feel better about your consumption if you go for a run, hit the gym, or do something active.
2. Take your time — this is a delicious meal. I’d hate for you to rush through it and not savor every bite. I myself don’t leave the kids table (shut up) for at least an hour.
3. Combine everything into a sandwich — your Thanksgiving spread probably includes some sort of dinner roll. An absolute Thanksgiving pro move is to put everything on the roll in this order; turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans. Trust me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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