An In-Depth Analysis of the Delicacies and Disgraces Featured on Thanksgiving Menus


Natalia Rodriguez

The beautiful Thanksgiving spread.

Thanksgiving is the best American holiday, and that is a matter that is not up for contention. In fact, Thanksgiving is so important that Congress has declared it an official national holiday that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year. Many people argue that the reason Thanksgiving is so cherished across America is because it reminds Americans to give thanks for the opportunities they have and to appreciate the ones they love. However, this is clearly a very idealized and inaccurate statement, especially when taking into consideration that the United States has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. Americans do not eagerly await the end of November for the chance to reflect on their lives and share a moment with their cousin’s uncle’s mother-in-law; Americans are in it for the food. This is completely understandable seeing as traditional Thanksgiving meals are the epitome of American cooking. Although (rather unfortunately), not all Thanksgiving dishes are created equally. Therefore, it seems only fair that some of the most renowned Thanksgiving dishes be put to the test in order to see whether or not they truly deserve their coveted places on Thanksgiving menus.


Our Rating: A

Thanksgiving without a turkey? I don’t think so. This bird is not only the center of the table, but it is also the center of attention. The perfectly browned skin is enough to make anyone’s mouth water—except for maybe vegans and vegetarians. However, it is crucial that the turkey be cooked for exactly the right amount of time, if not it may end up overcooked which leads to a dry, sad and unpleasant experience.

Natalia Rodriguez
An oven roasted turkey, cooked to perfection.

Sweet Potatoes (in any form)

Our Rating: A++

(Mashed with Marshmallows): Our Rating: A++++

I will spend the rest of my life being thankful that the sweet potato exists, and feeling indebted to the beautiful genius that dared to top mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows—they were, unequivocally, a pioneer with revolutionary and life changing ideas. Sweet potatoes are the reason that creationism is still a prominent belief, seeing as the creation of sweet potatoes can only be explained as an “act of  divine creation.”

Natalia Rodriguez
The most delicious meal that is served on Thanksgiving.


Our Rating: A+

Amazing and underrated. Stuffing is at its peak existence when made out of focaccia bread, as rosemary does wonders in the oven. Additionally, stuffing is elevated when dried cranberries are added. The cranberries give the stuffing a sweet and tangy edge that helps bring out the savoriness of the sausage and herbs.

Natalia Rodriguez
Stuffing—absolutely amazing.

Cranberry Sauce

Our Rating: B

Tangy and delicious, but only when made fresh. The magic of cranberry sauce is only due to the fact that it is only eaten around the holidays, making that first taste all the more spectacular. Canned cranberry sauce is overly sweet and has a terrible syrup-like consistency, and jellied cranberry sauce is just insulting. One should not be able to call something that lends itself to be sliced with a knife a “sauce.”

“Even though I am unable to comprehend why we would even dream of limiting our cranberry sauce consumption to only one month a year, I know the minute it is placed on a table, it truly becomes Thanksgiving. Is it even possible to envision a holiday dinner without this essential, otherwise elusive sauce,” junior Angie Lopez said.

Natalia Rodriguez
Tangy, fresh cranberry sauce. It should be slathered over everything.

Corn Casserole

Our Rating: A+

Buttery, sweet, warm and cheesy, corn casserole is able to flawlessly cross the line between being an incredible side dish and an almost savory dessert. Bonus points if served right out of the oven.

“Personally, I love corn casserole and think that it’s a vital part of the Thanksgiving meal. I could eat just corn casserole on Thanksgiving and be completely satisfied with my meal,” senior Catherine Healy said.

Mashed Potatoes

Our Rating: A+

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic dishes, mashed potatoes serve as the perfect blank canvas that will complement any other food piled on top of them. When the skins are left in, it is doubly delicious.

Natalia Rodriguez
Creamy peaks of perfection, this tray isn’t big enough to satisfy my appetite.

Creamed Spinach

Our Rating: A/F–

Creamed spinach is GREAT. The only thing is that it must have an appropriate spinach to cream ratio (4:1 respectively). If the creamed spinach looks more like a cheese dip than a spinach dish, it is not worth your time and energy.

On the other hand, creamed spinach is AWFUL. Everything everyone hates about spinach is present, but now it’s mixed with some milk. How did this become a thing?

Pumpkin Pie

Our Rating: A+

A classic that is outstanding when cooked well. There must be a strong pumpkin and cinnamon flavor, and the texture should be creamy—not mealy or goopy. When the crust also has nuts—such as walnuts—the taste is unparalleled.

Natalia Rodriguez
A store bought pumpkin pie, not that great, but still tasty.

Mac and Cheese

Our Rating: B

Yes, mac and cheese is a “gift from the heavens” and what not, but it can be eaten at any point in time and is not just limited to the winter and the fall like many other Thanksgiving dishes. Either way, baked mac and cheese is the best mac and cheese, and it requires at least a blend of three or more cheeses. And for those who suffer from lactose-intolerance, it is worth all the Lactaids in the world.

Pecan Pie

Our Rating: C

Not great. Pecan pie is overwhelmingly sweet, and eating more than one slice may cause you to unknowingly slip into a diabetic coma and find yourself in a hospital bed the next morning, feeling nothing except shame and regret. Eating more than two slices of pecan pie in a row almost guarantee immediate death. Pecans are incredible on their own and frankly, it’s insulting to drown them in that much sugar.

Natalia Rodriguez
A pecan pie that was sliced before I could get a picture by an eager dinner guest.

Apple Pie

Our Rating: A+

Nothing is as American as apple pie. A tried and true classic, no one can hate apple pie. The large chunks of warm apples gently folded in cinnamon and sugar, perfectly tucked away under a layer of flaky and buttery crust make it extremely tempting to forgo dinner and skip right to dessert.

Natalia Rodriguez
Publix apple pies are equally delicious.


Our Rating: A

Gravy usually pairs well with all foods, but it pairs especially well with turkey and mashed potatoes. It not only adds flavor, but brings out the flavors of the turkey and mashed potatoes. However, gravy may sometimes be too rich and accidentally end up overpowering everything. With that in mind, it is best to be cautious while handling the gravy boat.

Green Bean Casserole

Our Rating: F

If you ever dare to bring a green bean casserole to a Thanksgiving dinner, it should immediately be shown to the trash can as quickly as possible. The green mass of nasty sludge pretending to be food is utterly despicable and should not be labeled safe for human consumption.

Natalia Rodriguez
Green beans before they are ruined in a green bean casserole.

Mojo Pork

Our Rating: C/A

Mojo pork is great, but it is not a traditional Thanksgiving food in any way. Mojo pork is unapologetically Cuban, not American. Therefore, it is quite out of place during Thanksgiving, an American holiday. It only seems best to leave Thanksgiving to the turkeys.

However, while Miami is a city in the United States, it can also be considered, to some extent, the northernmost city in Latin America. So, it stands to reason that the overwhelmingly large Latin American community here would like to have something that reminds them of home, which is most often mojo pork. On that note, mojo pork is soon to replace the traditional yet dry staple that is turkey as the reigning meat centerpiece.

All in all, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday that gives Americans of all ages, races and genders the chance to set aside their differences and wear a big pair of stretchy pants with no shame.