Ah, Thanksgiving—the time when debates about politics take a back seat, and the real battle begins: the war of side dishes. We’re talking intense opinions, folks. So, a couple of years back, Instacart and the Harris Poll did a deep dive, surveying 2,000 Americans about their holiday food likes and dislikes. The verdict? Some sides are as divisive as a heated political discussion.
So, what’s the fuss about? Well, 27% of Americans can’t stand candied yams. Green bean casseroles come in a close second at 25%, followed by cranberry sauce at 24%. These aren’t just dislikes; they’re full-on Thanksgiving side dish vendettas.
One Thanksgiving food enthusiast, Julie Tracy, dishes out some wisdom: “Respect your veggies, stay true to their texture and color.” Overcooking turns a vibrant rainbow into mushy gray sludge, perpetuating the unpopularity of certain dishes.
Take candied yams, for instance—a Southern staple that turns already mushy sweet potatoes into a sugary, nutmeg-infused cream. Maybe we should just let sweet potatoes be themselves?
And green bean casserole? It transforms the usually crunchy green beans into a creamier concoction with the help of some soup. It might cozy up to turkey well, but does it retain that fresh snap green beans are known for? Not according to Andrea Xu, CEO of Umamicart, who finds it “too creamy and lacking in depth of flavor.”
Even cranberry sauce, the Thanksgiving poster child alongside turkey, isn’t immune to the hate. A friend puts it bluntly, “Cranberry sauce never gets eaten, and there are so many better dishes.” Ouch. Maybe it’s time for a menu makeover?
Apparently, the fixin’s hatred also depends on how it’s served. More than 20% of people don’t touch cranberry sauce at all, but 37% prefer homemade over the canned stuff, according to a 2021 Instacart survey.
So, what sides can you serve without risking complaints? Carrots, says Xu. They’re a fall staple and stand up well to various cooking methods. Just don’t make them too gooey. Opt for colorful heirloom varieties for that extra visual oomph. Roast them with a honey glaze or fry them with peas and corn—yum!
And if you want a generally liked option, coleslaw might be your sidekick. Xu recommends a lighter, vinegar-forward coleslaw to contrast heartier mains. It’s a freshness bomb that cuts through the heavy meal.
A while ago, food writer Eric Kim shared his thoughts about green bean casserole on The Food Network, and let me tell you, he wasn’t holding back. He said, “I’ve never been able to stomach it: that mishmash of random pantry stuff tossed into a Pyrex, with this unmistakably salty and plastic taste.” And he emphasized, “I still hate green bean casserole. So much.” Talk about strong feelings, right?
But, alas, like everything else in life, Thanksgiving side dishes have their devoted fans and an even larger crowd of naysayers. May your culinary choices be well-received, and may your Thanksgiving table be free from the drama of mushy green beans and overly sweet yams. Cheers to a side dish compromise!