A Delicious Origin Story of Your Thanksgiving Dinner

A woman is cutting the leg of her Thanksgiving turkey

Next week many of us are going to sit around the dinner table with our families and friends to devour a feast of large pro-portions (pun intended).  But, as you eat that turkey leg and plate of mashed potatoes and stuffing, you may be wondering, why do we eat these things for Thanksgiving? What’s the story behind our holiday favorites and why do we serve them every year?

Peddler’s Son is one of Arizona’s leading wholesale produce suppliers for quality products and on-time delivery. We serve a wide range of industries, including those in healthcare, education, catering, restaurants, and grocery stores. We take pride in our services and look forward to nurturing incredible relationships with our clients. Read our article below to learn the origins of our Thanksgiving dinner staples. 

Why Do We Eat Turkeys for Thanksgiving?

Since the very first Thanksgiving by the Pilgrims of Plymouth, turkeys have been the heart and soul of the holiday dinner table. William Bradford described in his journal how the colonists had hunted wild turkeys during the autumn of 1621 and since turkey is a uniquely American (and scrumptious) bird, it gained traction as the Thanksgiving meal of choice for Americans after President Lincoln declared the day a national holiday in 1863.

Today, turkey production in the U.S. is nearly a $5 billion industry. According to Tosh Farms, nearly 254 million turkeys were produced in 2016 alone in preparation for the holiday. Most of the turkeys we eat on Thanksgiving come from Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and West Virginia.

Why Do We Eat Cranberries on Thanksgiving?

Another food item dating back to the pilgrims of Plymouth, cranberries are a uniquely North American fruit. Native Americans used them not only as a food source but also to dye fabrics and craft medicine. Due to their abundance and delicious flavors, it is believed that the pilgrims and Native Americans ate them on the first Thanksgiving.

While commercial farming of cranberries exists in many states and regions, the most common areas are those in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec.  

Why Do We Eat Yams? 

A holiday favorite, the sweet potato gained popularity in the late 1800s when southerners replaced sweet potatoes with yams. Since then you can find the vegetable in many holiday side dishes and desserts.

The main difference between sweet potatoes and yams is their exterior texture, inner coloring, and flavors. For example:

  • Sweet potatoes are typically sweeter in flavor, while yams are more neutral
  • Sweet potatoes have thin reddish-brown skin, while yams are rough, textured with brown skin

It’s also important to note that the two are often mixed up. You’ll find that sweet potatoes are labeled as yams. Some folks insist they eat yams every year at Thanksgiving, even though they’ve never seen a true yam. 

In the early 20th century, potato growers in the Southern US adopted the African word for yam to market their orange-colored potatoes and distinguish them from regular potatoes. The nickname “yam” stuck, and many producers use the name on their products to this day. Because these yams are technically sweet potatoes, the US Department of Agriculture requires that the label “yam” be accompanied by an additional label of “sweet potato”. 

Peddler’s Son Offers All The Ingredients for a Delicious Thanksgiving Meal

Peddler’s Son has provided Arizona businesses with quality wholesale products for over 30 years. We are committed to customer service, quality, and honest pricing to ensure our customers get the best products and provisions possible. 

As a family-owned wholesale produce distributor, we provide our services to everyone from the produce department to the hospital cafeteria. No matter your industry, Peddler’s Son is here for you! Contact us today and learn what a partnership with us can mean for your business.

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