I just bought celery and olives yesterday. I always buy them for Thanksgiving, but rarely any other time of the year. Olives are a special treat, and the adults in my family love them. I use celery in my cornbread dressing, and the rest of the stalk is served alone or stuffed. However, I did not know that the two were traditional on everyone’s Thanksgiving tables for almost a century, and then faded out in the 1970s. It all started when fresh produce began to be transported across the country to be enjoyed whatever the season.
The pairing of the two was both a result of the fact that they were introduced and made readily available around the same time and they served a similar purpose: both celery and olives were palate cleansers, and ones that didn’t require a servant.
“People were looking for a palate cleanser in between Thanksgiving’s richer courses,” explained [Rick] Rodgers. “At a family meal where you don’t have servants, the tray of celery and olives could be put on the table and you didn’t need a servant to serve a sorbet course.”
Advertising played a big part, too. Celery and olives eventually became “traditional” at Thanksgiving. But what happened in the 1970s to change that? Read the entire story of celery and olives on the Thanksgiving menu at boston.com.