Why So Many People Are Cooking Thanksgiving Food Right Now

updated Apr 1, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

So, we noticed something a little funny over this past week: People are cooking full-on Thanksgiving dinners. No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. Our Georgia-based contributor, Patty Catalano, was the first to ask in our Slack chat if we had noticed this too. “Because turkeys are available and relatively cheap, lots of people are making Thanksgiving food. Has anyone else noticed that?”

Oddly enough, that same day several states away in New Jersey, my family was in the middle of ripping up a loaf of white bread. We were craving a batch of stuffing to accompany the six-pound turkey breast that my mom had purchased after all the grocery store shelves in our area had been looted of chicken. “The turkey was on sale too! Just 99 cents per pound,” she told me. She also giddily told me that we even had a can of jellied cranberry sauce and turkey gravy hiding out in the back of the pantry. All signs pointed to making Thanksgiving dinner in the middle of March.

Credit: Anita Gall

With the turkey in the oven, I scrolled through Instagram and my thumb stopped in its tracks on a photo of a full Thanksgiving spread: turkey, mashed potatoes, fresh cranberry sauce, candied yams, mac and cheese, green beans, Parker House rolls … It was posted by a friend, Anita Gall, who is currently quarantining with family on Long Island. I slid into her DMs to tell her of the coincidence. “We planned ours for the same reason!” she said. “We found a turkey at the grocery store, so we planned a second Thanksgiving around it.”

Credit: Lauren Masur

That’s when we noticed Kitchn’s “how-to cook a turkey” tutorial spiking in traffic from curious searchers. I’m not a detective but the series of events had me feeling like Sherlock Holmes. And while I have no empirical evidence to substantiate these observations, I do have a few theories as to why everyone seems to be making Thanksgiving these days.

1. Turkey is easier to find than chicken in some grocery stores.

While many grocery stores were experiencing overwhelming demand for whole chickens (and chicken in all forms, really), the demand isn’t as high for whole turkeys. Faced with virtually raided meat shelves but plenty of turkey (again, in all forms), we can see how people are resorting to this poultry alternative.

Related: How to Cook a Turkey: The Simplest, Easiest Method

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Many Thanksgiving sides can easily be made with pantry staples.

If you’ve stocked up on long-lasting produce like carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes, a loaf of bread, and some key canned goods (we’re looking at you, green beans), you have most of the accoutrements you need to make a Thanksgiving meal out of it. Here, let Kitchn help you with that.

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes That Can Be Made with Pantry Staples

3. We’re all craving a little comfort right now.

With lots of people holed up with their families/loved ones for the foreseeable future, many are turning to their favorite comfort foods. As it turns out, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, stuffing, buttered rolls, and gravy-smothered anything fits the bill. In the same spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re giving thanks for our families, our health, and the food we have in front of us — and I can’t think of a better time than now to do just that.

Have you or anyone you know cooked a Thanksgiving dinner recently?