Reranking Thanksgiving Food


Photo by Tyler Watts

A man, a can, and some cranberry sauce: bliss.

Nick Alutto, Editor-in-Chief

It is the duty of fine journalists to admit when they are wrong. Without building trust and always adding corrections for misinformation, a newspaper can have no credibility. Which is why, ever since it was published last year in The Spectator, I have stayed up every night waiting to correct the inaccuracy, nay the fabrication, that was Lily Drury’s, 2019 ranking of Thanksgiving food. A list that stands in such contrast for what this fine publication s

tands for, that it must be corrected. Below, I will present her rankings with my critiques and reranking of foods, and we shall let you, the reader, decide which list is more accurate.

#7 Mashed Potatoes (formerly ranked #5)

Excerpt from Lily Drury’s ranking:

“It wins best supporting act, but not quite the star of the show.”

I know this may come as a surprise, so let me explain. Almost no one eats mashed potatoes plain. They rely on the crutch of gravy or other sides mixed together to gain a good reputation amongst Thanksgiving celebrators. Mashed potatoes are like a canvas, and the food that mixes in with it is like the paint. For the same reason that there aren’t many blank canvases in art museums, I can not in good conscience place mashed potatoes any higher on my list.

#6 Roasted Vegetables (formerly ranked #3)

Exerpt from Lily Drury’s ranking:

“I’m gonna give it to you straight. These are good. They’re great…I can still appreciate the psychology of having these on the table to try and trick ourselves into thinking we’re enjoying a balanced meal.”

Vegetables are important, but they are not third place important. The day I get excited for Thanksgiving, and my mind goes to roasted vegetables instead of quite literally any other side dish will be the day that my childhood dies. On the other hand, eat your veggies.

#5 Mac and Cheese (formerly ranked #2)

As someone who has been trying to get mac and cheese a spot at the Alutto Thanksgiving table, it may seem that this should be higher on my list. My argument for its lower ranking comes in two parts. First, too many people simply don’t view mac and cheese as a Thanksgiving dish and recognizability plays a factor in this list. Second, there is way too much variation, if you have the wrong person making your mac and cheese, they could show up with some microwave stuff. There are plenty of times that are perfect for microwave mac and cheese, but Thanksgiving is not that time.

#4 Sweet Potato Casserole (formerly ranked #4)

Excerpt from Lily Drury’s ranking:

“I owe sweet potato casserole an apology. For many years as a child, I refused to give this dish a chance. I fell victim to the age old mistake of judging food based on appearance.”

Even a broken clock is right twice-per-day. Sweet potato casserole is great (as are all the #1-#4 choices). The reason it isn’t higher is because the quality of your sweet potato casserole is almost solely in the hands of whoever is cooking it. With so much variation in recipes and what gets mixed in, experiences with this side dish are not very universal. Accordingly, if you have never liked the sweet potato casserole served in your house, I would suggest handing over chef powers to someone more deserving.

#3 Green Bean Casserole (formerly ranked #6)

This is the one dish that is always gone before leftovers on Thanksgiving. Whatever you think the appropriate amount of green bean casserole is to make for whoever you are eating with, double it. It amazes me that this food is eaten almost exclusively on Thanksgiving because of how surprisingly great it is year after year. To be honest, I don’t even really know what a casserole is. What I do know is that we should keep making more because we have really knocked it out of the park with both green bean and sweet potato casserole, and it’s a shame that there aren’t more casseroles out there.

#2 Stuffing (formerly ranked #1)

A fact, albeit a negative one, I learned about stuffing this year was that there is actually a slight chance of catching Salmonella or E. coli if stuffing is cooked in a turkey at too low of a temperature. If I ever learned a similar fact about a less tasty food, let’s use celery as an example, I would never touch celery again, but stuffing? No hesitation. It’s like basically just moist croutons, and it’s amazing.

#1 Cranberry Sauce (formerly ranked #7)

Excerpt from Lily Drury’s ranking:

“I truly don’t understand how this became a staple for Thanksgiving. Why would you want to submerge your turkey in that sickly sweet compote as opposed to the creamy, rich, well-paired gravy? It just seems out of place on the table.”

Throughout this entire article, you may have thought once or twice that my list and Lily’s list weren’t all that different. However, this sole ranking decision is where I take offense. When I edited last year’s Thanksgiving food ranking, seeing cranberry sauce in the last place position inspired many sleepless nights where I would think about the duty I had to write a new list that would restore cranberry sauce’s tarnished name. Cranberry sauce was openly mocked as, “essentially jam intervening with my stuffing.” Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I understand that some people simply don’t like cranberry sauce. However, I wish to present my argument for why it will always remain at the top of my list.

Name me a single other sauce that can be eaten plain without the person eating it looking absolutely crazy. Soy? Barbeque? Sweet and Sour? Could you imagine what you would think of someone who sat down in front of you and just started eating plain barbeque sauce, you may fear for your life. Cranberry sauce transcended this barrier and became a sauce that tastes great on its own as well as mixed with any other side dish. It has become as synonymous with Thanksgiving dinner as turkey, and it has earned its place on the top. As you can see, this list represents The Spectator appropriately, while also correcting the errors of our past. If you would like to see a more complete list covering a more extensive menu of Holiday dining, feel free to visit to view Garrison Sloan’s in-depth ranking of Holiday foods.