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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Did Pilgrims Eat Popcorn?

Embrace the Past...

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth
by Jennie A. Brownscombe. (1914)
A mythologized painting showing
Plymouth settlers feasting with Plains Indians.
en.wikipedia.org

With Thanksgiving comes a special time to embrace the past. The feast of which we are most familiar took place when the Pilgrims arrived and the Wampanoag Indians gathered in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. This was a time of autumn celebration and that's right, it took place in the 17th century!

Within the history of Thanksgiving lies nuggets of trivia that nudge at the heart and tickle the funny bone. 

Did you know...
  • Turkey may not have been the main meat that filled the guests' bellies at the first feast?
  • George Washington declared Thanksgiving to be a February holiday?
  • Fledgling colonists lacked butter and wheat flour for baking, thus no pumpkin pie?
  • Whether mashed or roasted, white or sweet, potatoes had no place at the first Thanksgiving?
  • While cranberries were plentiful, in wasn't until 50 years later that sauces and relishes were made with the tart orbs?
  • "Although Thanksgiving celebrations dated back to the first European settlements in America, it was not until the 1860s that Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November to be a national holiday" (History of Thanksgiving. (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 9:52, November 20, 2012, from http://www.history.comhttp://www.history.com/videos/history-of-the-thanksgiving-holiday.)
What about corn?  

So far there has been no mention of corn: roasted, boiled or popped. While corn and kidney beans were staples of the Pilgrim's diet, is it possible there was no corn gracing the table of that first Thanksgiving feast? If it was present, i.e., Indian corn, it presented itself in a form much different from that which we are familiar today. From this, a thought is interjected:

Popcorn is prevalent today as one of America's favorite snacks but . . .

Did Pilgrims Eat Popcorn?

Some believe to this day
Popcorn was a “parched” treat
Brought by the Indians

A banquet of harvest tradition
Surpasses any myth of yore
Hearty, bountiful plenty
Did grace every table galore

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Venison, goose, duck, and eel
Beckoned the most squeamish lad
Time of rejoicing and feasting
Meant only the best to be had 

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A cornucopia of fruits
Berries, grapes, apples, and plums
Competed with homegrown veggies
Squash, peas, beans, even white corn 

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There were no potatoes
Pumpkin pie hadn’t been invented
Bread puddings, milk, and honey
Left no appetite unattended 

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Indeed more beer than water
Quenched the harshest of thirsts
With gin and wine not far behind
Unbeknownst which came first 

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But what about the popcorn?
Were pilgrims the early munchers
Of that salty, puffed corn treat
Or was someone else the launcher? 

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Not until over a century later
Did sweet yellow corn none the least
Become the corn that traditionally “popped”
As part of a Thanksgiving feast

©2012 Awakenings
Sharla Lee Shults