Breaking News
More () »

What did the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Tribe eat at the first Thanksgiving?

The harvest looked a lot different from the celebration we've come to know today.

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — When you gather around your table for Thanksgiving, the food you'll gobble down won't look anything like the harvest the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Tribe shared in 1621.

The nationally-recognized "first Thanksgiving" took place between the two groups in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In the 400 years since, meals that have adorned holiday tables have evolved into the celebration we know today.

So, what did the Pilgrims and Wampanoag actually eat? 

Lucky for us, there are still some historical accounts in circulation that give us a glimpse into the harvest. Pilgrim Edward "E.W." Winslow wrote about the experience in a letter to a friend in England, according to the Plimoth Patuxet Museums.

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors," the letter reads.

The fowl killed was enough to serve both the Pilgrims and the tribe for a week in addition to five deer that were killed and brought to the plantation.

"Amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted," Winslow recounted, in part.

A separate letter from William Bradford, who was recorded as being at the plantation in the 17th century, shows quite a large amount of fish was also feasted on.

"For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod, & bass, & other fish, of which yey took good store, of which every family had their portion," the letter reads, per Pilgrim Hall Museum.

Bradford's letter also mentioned a "great store" of wild turkey was also part of the harvest.

Other than corn provided by the tribe, no other specific mention was made in either letter as to what vegetables may have accompanied the variety of meat that was feasted on. 

History.com reports vegetables like onions, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and peas were common crops at the time and very well could have made the table. Fruits like blueberries, cranberries, grapes and raspberries were also indigenous to the region.

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out