This time of year is generally one of reflection, enjoying a bountiful table with family and friends and being thankful for what we have. To those of us who study brands, it is no surprise that brands are also a big part of the fabric of our lives at this time. Nostalgia, of course, plays a big part in this as most of us associate these brands with the pleasant emotions and experiences we’ve had during past Thanksgivings. Let’s look at some of the common brands we associate with Thanksgiving.
Thoughts of Thanksgiving inevitably conjure thoughts of turkey for most Americans: According to the National Turkey Federation (yes, there is such a thing), nearly 90% of Americans surveyed eat turkey on Thanksgiving! And as brands of turkey go, Butterball is the brand most of us associate as the quintessential Thanksgiving turkey. Not only have we seen their classic ads, but what other brand offers a Turkey Talk-Line, where you can call or text to get all your turkey questions answered? I mean, come on! Successful brands never stop improving in their sphere of expertise.
Next, for many turkey eaters, turkey without cranberry sauce is like peanut butter without jelly or a burger without fries. And when we think of cranberry anything, we think of…Ocean Spray. Given that around 75% of all turkey is eaten at Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is little wonder that Ocean Spray sells 80% of its cranberry sauce during the last quarter of the year!
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A survey of American consumers shows that another “must-have” at the Thanksgiving table is stuffing. And, for most you stuffing eaters, the category descriptor likely evoked one name that is synonymous with stuffing: Stouffer’s Stove Top! Introduced in 1972 by General Foods, Kraft Heinz now sells around 60 million boxes for Thanksgiving.
Moving on to the vegetables, the now famous (or is it infamous) green bean casserole was invented by Campbell’s Soup Company in 1955. The recipe still gets millions of hits each Thanksgiving and is served up tens of millions of times on tables around the country. While the dish is held together by Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, the star of the dish is, of course, French’s Fried Onions, an ingredient that lends magic to many other dishes, mind you, or eaten straight from the container (oops, I said too much).
Entering the home stretch (as in stomach stretch), the quintessential dessert for Thanksgiving is the glorious pumpkin pie. And when cooks around the country prepare their pies, one brand of pumpkin above all others rises to the top of the list: Libby’s. And what is a pumpkin pie without that creamy topping, in tub or can, known as Cool Whip?
Now, go forth and enjoy your Thanksgiving Day feast, surrounded by all the comfort brands can provide.
BONUS: Here’s some fun trivia to get you into the Thanksgiving Day mood and give you some talking points to impress family and friends at the feast:
- Only male turkeys gobble. Hens make clicking sounds.
- The red fleshy wobbly growth on a turkey’s head and upper neck is called a “caruncle.” This is to be differentiated from the red fleshy growth on the base of a turkey’s beak, which is called the “snood” and the red fleshy growth under the turkey’s throat, which is the “wattle”.
- It takes around 200 individual cranberries to make one can of cranberry sauce.
- Urban legend has it that eating too much turkey on Thanksgiving makes you tired and lethargic later in the day. The turkey is getting a bad rep here…it’s your overconsumption of carbs (wine included) that’s really responsible for your need of a nap.
- The original name for Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole was “Green Bean Bake” and the original recipe card of the inventor, Dorcas Reilly, is on display in the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.
- The word “stuffing” was viewed as crude in the South and replaced with “dressing”.
- The origins of stuffing are unclear. Some believe it was brought over from Africa by the slaves and is derived from “Kush”. Other records show stuffing being described in ancient recipes.
- The pilgrims got serious about celebrating Thanksgiving in 1623 after a long drought…only back then it was customary to have fasting days ahead of the feast…would do our contemporary waistlines some good today, me thinks.
- Modern Americans would not likely recognize the pilgrim version of pumpkin pie: Hollowed out pumpkin filled with milk, honey and spice and cooked in hot ash.
- The largest pumpkin pie ever baked: a 3,700 pound, 20-footer created in 2010 in New Bremen, Ohio. Why? Because they could!
- Nevermind vehicular accidents, the most common accidents on Thanksgiving Day are cuts, burns and falls (e.g., slipping on gravy).
- You’d be forgiven for thinking Turducken is a relatively new Thanksgiving Day aberration, but you’d be wrong. It dates back centuries.
- “Jingle Bells” was originally written for Thanksgiving and later altered to fit Christmas.
- Around 1900, Thanksgiving Day was known as “Ragamuffin Day” as people would dress in rags.