Nuts Were Enjoyed at the First Thanksgiving

Posted on : November 14th, 2017

Vintage Thanksgiving CardI can hardly imagine a Thanksgiving without nuts. Big bowls of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and beechnuts to crack with nutcrackers were always present at our holiday table, a tradition that dates back to the earliest records of the holiday feast.

In 1779, Juliana Smith described their celebration in a letter to her cousin Betsey. The menu included several kinds of roasted meat (venison, turkey, goose, pigeon and pork), Onions in Cream, Cauliflower, Squash, Potatoes, Raw Celery, Mincemeat Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, Indian Pudding, Plum Pudding and Apple Cider. The feast lasted three days, as was traditional, and lasted late into the evening. “We did not rise from the Table until it was quite dark, & then when the dishes had been cleared away we all got round the fire as close as we could, & cracked nuts, & sang songs & told stories.”

What was at the very first Thanksgiving feast in 1621, however, is hard to know as very little about it was recorded. Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, that attempts to replicate the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony where the first Thanksgiving took place, has done considerable research on this. Certainly most of the things on the above menu were there except for potatoes and pie. Flour and butter weren’t available yet and potatoes had not yet made it to the New World.

We do know, however, that nuts were almost certainly on the Thanksgiving menu as they were a significant part of the diet of the Wampanoag Indians who attended the feast as well as the Pilgrims themselves. Walnuts, chestnuts and beechnuts were local to the area and were added to a cornmeal porridge the Wampanoags made called Nasaump and to a type of boiled cornbread made with berries and lightly sweetened with maple syrup. Another traditional Wampanoag dish still eaten in Plymouth, MA is called Sobaheg. It was made with whatever meat was available, typically turkey, pigeon or venison, and used ground walnuts or sunflower seeds as a thickening device. A modern and delicious sounding Sobaheg variation using acorn squash is well worth checking out through Epicurious if you’d like to try it yourself.

Sweet and Salty Gift RoundThese days families rarely shell nuts at the holiday table anymore. They’re more likely to be enjoying handfuls of flavored nuts from Maisie Jane’s! Gift rounds have become part of many holiday celebrations. Pretty enough to put right on the table with several flavor choices, your family will enjoy every one.

Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products, Inc. was founded on strong beliefs and passion for offering unique, flavorful, top-quality, nut products. We strongly believe in earth-friendly practices that start on our family-owned and operated orchards. We use organic farming practices and continue in the process by using all-natural ingredients with no preservatives or GMOs. We believe in honest, friendly and helpful customer relations at all levels. We take pride in every task, every day, with every person.