The tradition of Thanksgiving dinner often has been associated in popular culture with New England (6 states within the US). New England Puritans proclaimed days of thanksgiving to commemorate many specific events.
On December 11, 1621 Edward Winslow of the Plimoth Plantation wrote a letter in hopes of attracting more colonists. In it, he described a three-day feast shared by the Plymouth settlers and the local Wampanoag tribe. The Governor sent out four men who provided a variety of food, sufficient to feed the colony for a week, while Massasoit's hunters killed five deer. In the 19th century, this event became associated with the idea of a Thanksgiving feast.
Even though there were no Turkeys associated with thanksgiving at the time, there were definitely wild turkeys in the Plymouth area, as colonist William Bradford noted in his book Of Plymouth Plantation.
While the idea of giving thanks and celebrating the harvest was popular in certain parts of the country, it was by no means an annual national holiday until the 19th century. Presidents would occasionally declare a Thanksgiving Day celebration, but the holiday hadn't completely caught on nationwide.
When Bradford's journals were reprinted in 1856 after being lost, they found a receptive audience with advocates who wanted Thanksgiving turned into a national holiday. Since Bradford wrote of how the colonists had hunted wild turkeys during the autumn of 162, it gained traction as the Thanksgiving meal of choice for Americans after Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.
Jane G. Austin also published a fictional account of the Pilgrims in 1889. She described the Pilgrims, a year after their arrival, as feasting on turkey stuffed with beechnuts, other types of fowl, venison, boiled beef and other roasts, oysters, clam chowder, plum-porridge, hasty pudding, sea biscuit, manchet bread, butter, treacle, mustard, turnips, salad, grapes, plums, popcorn, ale and root beer.
Despite it all being fictional, her account was extremely popular. It was repeated by other writers, adapted for plays and public events, and adopted by school curricula. The writing of Austin and others helped to establish the inaccurate image of the Pilgrim Thanksgiving feast in popular culture and make it a part of the national identity of the United States.
So what about desserts? Why do pies play such an important role in Thanksgiving?
Why pie, and not cake, cookies, or other sweets for this holiday meal? It certainly wasn't part of any feast with the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans -- they wouldn't have had the butter and flour needed for the crust.
Thanksgiving changed over the years and was no longer a church-based holiday, but one associated with food and family -- and since that era coincided with a wave of immigration to the United States from the U.K, the Brits brought their love of all things encased in a pastry shell, whether meaish, fish, or fruit.
New England has a strong tradition of pie and cake was more challenging before the advent of baking powder; getting the batter to rise was achieved by beaten eggs.
When Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving, Sarah Hale (dubbed the godmother of Thanksgiving) promoted the idea by publishing recipes for turkey, stuffing -- and pumpkin pie.
Pecan pies also became tradition due to their trees being native to the region around the Gulf of Mexico and the valley of the Mississippi River. When the French colonized New Orleans at the end of the 17th century, Louisiana pecans became pralines, and the pies were made of nuts, sugar, and cream.
Are you looking to celebrate your own Thanksgiving this year? Then take a look at our luxurious dessert making kits below. They’re guaranteed to wow and even if you don’t celebrate, why not create something special for the festive Christmas period?
Take a look at each of our kits below, which can easily be modified to vegan, flexitarian and gluten free diets:
- Pumpkin Pie Kit - Get truly autumnal and make a seasonal pumpkin tart with ease. Everything you need to create a cute little pie serving 2-3 people. Even a tart tin and leaf cutter and pumpkin puree!
- Pecan Pie Refill Kit - This exciting new take on the all American classic has some tweaks bringing it right up to date with our evolving dietary needs. This sumptuous dessert is gluten-free and can be made to be vegan if you so wish. A flavourful and wholesome treat has that all-important and authentic hint of maple.
- Looking for something a little different? Try our Fig and Frangipane Tart - A beautiful pairing of almonds and autumnal fruit (If you do not like figs why not try pear). This tart is a classic dessert sure to impress all. Also comes with stem ginger creme anglaise.
With it also being Black Friday week there is an additional 20% off all kits. That means you could get our Pie Bundle with it’s discount of 15% + the Black Friday 20% giving you a total of 35% off! NO CODE REQUIRED- discounts added at checkout.
Want to explore the full Thanksgiving / Christmas range? Click here!
Happy Dessert Making!
The Mon Dessert Team x
All recipes can be adapted to a vegan diet using flax eggs and non dairy butter.