1921 Thanksgiving Menus

1921 Thanksgiving Menus
Source: American Cookery (November, 1921)

The November, 1921 issue of American Cookery provided four menu options for Thanksgiving meals:

  • Three course dinner for small family in a servantless house
  • A simple company dinner of six courses
  • A formal company dinner. Eight courses
  • Elaborate formal dinner. Ten courses

My Thanksgiving meals clearly lean toward the three course option (though with turkey instead of chicken) – but if I could get in a time machine and go back a hundred years, I’d head to a house serving the ten course meal.


29 thoughts on “1921 Thanksgiving Menus

    1. These menus make me wonder who the audience was for American Cookery magazine. Was it a very upscale audience who may have had cooks, or were menus such as some of these Thanksgiving menus primarily aspirational for a more mainstream audience?

  1. I’m struck by the “servantless” house comment. I wonder what percentage of homes actually had servants? Surely a small minority, but still its an interesting comment as the author expects that some of the readers will have them.

    1. I also thought that the phrase about “servantless house” seemed strange. The percentage of homes with servants had to be very small. I’m really curious about the demographics of readers of American Cookery magazine.

    1. This may be more information than you want, but a capon is a male chicken that was castrated at an early age and then fed a rich diet of milk or porridge. The bird is very large for a chicken and meat is very tender. Amazingly I’ve actually eaten capon. Our local supermarket sells them (at least during the holidays) and we bought one for Thanksgiving one year when a turkey seemed like it would be too much. It was tasty – though quite expensive – and the next year we went back to having turkey.

  2. Sheryl, I made the fig and cranberry pie for the meal today – it looks delicious and I did sample the filling before baking and it was heavenly! I posted photos and linked to your post! I’m guessing you might get some extra traffic…. Growing up we always had oyster stuffing. During the meat shortage in 1971-72 we ate capon on occasion – just really big chickens (neutered birds). They tasted like chicken only much bigger! It was a good substitute for a turkey that year….

    1. There are a surprisingly large number of oyster recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks. I think that oysters must have been more readily available and less expensive back then – at least in locales near the coast.

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