Thanksgiving food is terrible

Now that I have everybody against me, let me explain. Obviously not all Thanksgiving food is terrible. But Thanksgiving food – all Thanksgiving food – gets put on a pedestal and it’s getting cocky. It’s time someone calls out some of these dishes to shock them from their complacently in order to motivate them into being better. I’m like Thanksgiving’s terrible coach. I present my Thanksgiving food evaluation below.

Food: Turkey

Why it’s terrible: Oh by all means please pass the plate full of plywood. Let’s be honest; most of the time turkey tastes like you’re sucking on a sedimentary rock. Everyone knows the dark meat is the only part of the turkey worth eating and not using to scrape paint off the driveway, yet for some reason whenever the plate gets passed to you most of the dark meat is already mostly gone you feel obligated to pick the giant, flabby chicken wattle instead. If you try to eat it right away the inside of your mouth instantly ages like the Nazi in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and it feels like you just bit into a powdered ghost. White meat turkey is basically dried oatmeal held together by sadness. As the meat slab hits your plate like a 10-pound weight you instantly reach for the only thing that makes white meat turkey appetizing: gravy. You need about a gallon per 8 oz. piece as white meat turkey has nearly the same absorbency as an old, weathered outhouse. I’ve seen a dog go through a dried pig’s ear faster than I’ve been able to get through one bite of white meat turkey.

Food: Gravy

Why it’s terrible: Gravy is like liquid bacon – you can put it on anything to instantly make it better. The problem arises when your family has a dietary restriction and you accidentally slather your turkey with gluten- and dairy-free versions that I lovingly refer to as “that frothy disaster.” It looks and tastes like a four-year-old mixed equal parts water and milk and put it in a fancy gravy boat. And we have to talk about the “gravy boat” thing. Why do you put something so amazing into something so terrible? It’s like putting Kate Upton in burlap sack. Whenever the dumb-shaped gravy container gets handed to me I don’t know if I’m supposed to pour it into a teacup, use it to clean out my sinuses or rub it and wait for a genie to grant me three wishes. Apparently it’s also not proper Thanksgiving etiquette to sit down next to the gravy boat, guard it like pit bull mother protecting its young while using it as your own personal dipping bucket. I’m going to invent the Thanksgiving gravy fountain and make a billion dollars.

Food: Mashed potatoes

Why they’re terrible: Take everything that makes Cadbury cream eggs so amazing and leave the remainder in a frilly serving bowl’ there, you now have mashed potatoes. Plain mashed potatoes are as satisfying as a colonoscopy. Thankfully, plain mashed potatoes have the consistency of food that has already been partially digested. Yet another Thanksgiving dish salvaged by the wonder of gravy and/or a stick of melted butter. You could put melted butter into a nest of cotton balls and wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

Food: Stuffing

Why it’s terrible: Nobody knows what’s in stuffing. For all we know it could be brimming with candy corn, horse meat and the soul of a sad boy. You don’t know. I swear two years ago I ate a spoonful and bit down on a wooden nickel. My guess is stuffing is dug up every year from under some gravel road, blessed and repurposed. Not many people know this but law enforcement uses stuffing to puncture tires during a high-speed chase. Somebody once told me it has sausage in it and I had to stop being friends with them because I don’t associate with liars. Then there’s something called a “wet” stuffing that finds itself into a small weird bowl every year that feels like it’s quarantined from the rest of the meal like a Hispanic woman at a Trump family meal. I once made the mistake of asking a relative how they made it. As soon as they defined “gizzard” I immediately called the authorities and now only interact with them in busy public places.

Food: Cranberry sauce

Why it’s terrible: There are two kinds of cranberry sauce: the canned kind and the kind some relative makes trying to be unnecessarily fancy. “It has real berries in it,” they’ll claim as you take a bite and are somehow subjected to an ice cream headache from how bitter it is without the mountain of sugar the Ocean Spray company lovingly dumps into the canned (real) version. It’s considered “impolite” to ask them how many batteries they added to their recipe to give it that delightful taste. The canned version tastes exactly the way it has for 50 years: like aluminum and minimal effort.

Food: Sweet potato casserole

Why it’s terrible: Is this a side or a dessert? Does it matter? Is life even worth living? Sweet potatoes meet marshmallows like they’re Tony and Maria in a production of West Side Story. I’m sorry; I don’t want or need a smash Broadway sensation on my plate. Who came up with this combination and why are we being forced this monstrosity year after year for the two weirdos at the table that surpass their gag reflex enough to choke it down? My guess is this was the compromise a mother made with their moody teen. I wonder what other combinations were rejected.

Loving mother: “How about these steamed Brussels sprouts?”

Moody Teen named Shark: “No. Whatever. Muh. I’m only going to eat them if you put crushed up Cinnamon Toast Crunch on top.”

Loving mother: “Whatever you want, dear!”

Just ridiculous.

Food: Pumpkin pie

Why it’s terrible: Pumpkin pie is God’s most wondrous creation and deserves no criticism from anyone. It is the perfect food. You know the scene from the movie Jurassic Park when they feed the velociraptors by lowering a cow into their cage? That’s me in the presence of pumpkin pie. Children are instructed to avert their eyes and more than one Australian hunter has lost fingers.


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at