Ask Americans what they’re eating on Thanksgiving, and the overwhelming majority (82% here) will say turkey, usually with dressing and gravy. Sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are pretty universal, too. But there are regional differences in what people select to put on the table, especially in side dishes. FiveThirtyEight held an online poll, crunched the numbers, and came up with a map showing which side dish is disproportionally popular in various regions of the U.S. These aren’t the only dishes that show regional variance.
Going deeper, the Southeast is the definitive home of canned cranberry sauce; respondents from the region are 50 percent more likely to pick that over the homemade variety. The Middle Atlantic states disproportionately have cauliflower as a side — 17 percent in the region versus 9 percent nationwide — while Texas and central Southern states see cornbread as far more necessary than the rest of the country, with 40 percent of respondents from those regions having it at dinner, compared with only 28 percent of the nation.
It makes sense to me, because Thanksgiving is all about food tradition. Cornbread was once a staple of every meal in the South, whereas fresh cranberries were hard to find down here before modern food transport methods were in place. So we eat what our grandparents ate 50 years ago, more so on Thanksgiving than other days. That said, I only serve macaroni and cheese at Thanksgiving when there are little children around. Read more about the various regional Thanksgiving side dishes at FiveThirtyEight. -via Marilyn Terrell