Thanksgiving’s origins: No pie, but lots of other tasty food
The first Thanksgiving didn’t feature pies or cakes, because the Plymouth pilgrims had no ovens and a limited supply of sugar. But it may have included cranberries, which Native Americans used in a variety of foods (including pemmican, made from berries, dried venison, and melted fat) as well as for medicinal purposes.
So what was the “original” Thanksgiving really like? Although harvest feasts were common in what became known as the Commonwealth of Virginia throughout the 17th century, the Thanksgiving most Americans probably think of was held at the Plymouth Plantation in November 1621.
William Bradford, the governor of the plantation, organized a feast for colonists and their neighbors, the Wampanoag tribe, to celebrate a successful harvest. The harvest had thrived thanks in part to Squanto, a native of the Patuxet tribe who had learned English as a slave before returning to his native land. Squanto taught the pilgrims how to grow corn, catch eels and fish, and avoid poisonous plants in the surrounding forest, as well as helping them to forge a relationship with the Wampanoag and its chief, Massasoit.
This first Thanksgiving lasted three days, and probably did feature wild turkey as well as venison supplied by the Wampanoag—but no football