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Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

by Joseph Carroll

What is Americans' favorite Thanksgiving food or dish? What about their least favorite? Last year, in a mid-November poll, Gallup posed these questions to the American public. Here are the results.

Favorite Thanksgiving Food or Dish

Gallup asked Americans to identify, without prompting, their favorite food or dish at their families' usual Thanksgiving dinner. Nearly half of all Americans, 49%, said turkey was their favorite. No other food Americans mentioned came close to turkey as the preferred food or dish. Stuffing or dressing was second, mentioned by 14% of respondents. Ham, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie were each mentioned by 5% of those polled.

Men and women differed slightly in their preferences for Thanksgiving dishes. Although turkey was the clear favorite among both groups, men were somewhat more likely to say turkey was their favorite food, by a 53% to 45% margin. Women were just slightly more likely than men, by 16% to 11%, to say stuffing or dressing was their favorite.

While people of all age groups chose turkey as their favorite, older Americans were much more likely to say so than were younger Americans. Fifty-six percent of Americans aged 50 and older said turkey was their favorite Thanksgiving food, compared with 45% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 40% of 18- to 29-year-olds.

Least Favorite Thanksgiving Dish

When asked to name their least favorite food or dish at Thanksgiving dinner, 21% of Americans mentioned cranberries or cranberry sauce. The entire class of vegetables, including squash, green beans, brussels sprouts, turnips, broccoli, peas, and onions or creamed onions, followed closely, at 17% -- though at most, 2% mentioned any specific vegetable. Roughly 1 in 10 Americans (11%) said sweet potatoes or yams were their least favorite food.

The data on least favorite foods do show some slight variations by age. Four types of food essentially tied as the least preferred among 18- to 29-year-olds: cranberries or cranberry sauce, stuffing or dressing, sweet potatoes or yams, and vegetables. Adults aged 30 to 49 said their least favorite food was cranberries or cranberry sauce, at 27%. Vegetables followed, at 20%, and sweet potatoes or yams were next, at 14%. The least favorite Thanksgiving foods among those aged 50 and older were vegetables (17%) and cranberries or cranberry sauce (15%). Adults in this age group also mentioned turkey and sweet potatoes or yams (7% each) as their least favorite dishes.

Americans' Favorite Holiday?

The poll also asked Americans to indicate which of three late fall and early winter holidays -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's -- was their favorite. Thanksgiving, at 27%, came in a distant second to Christmas, at 63%. Only 9% of Americans said New Year's was their favorite.

Although roughly 6 in 10 Americans in each age group said Christmas was their favorite holiday, New Year's fared better among younger Americans, while Thanksgiving rated better among older Americans. Almost the same percentage of Americans aged 18 to 29 picked Thanksgiving (20%) and New Year's (19%) as their favorite holiday. Thanksgiving ranked higher than New Year's among 30- to 49-year-olds, by a margin of 26% to 11%. Among adults aged 50 and older, 30% chose Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday, compared with just 4% who chose New Year's.

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