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When the Pilgrims and Wampanoag gathered at Plymouth Colony in 1621, they “dined” on wild fowl, corn in bread or porridge, venison, possibly wild turkeys, eel, lobster, clams and mussels, all according to Smithsonian.com.

Because they were more readily available, geese or ducks were the wildfowl of choice instead of turkeys. Swans and flocks of pigeons were plentiful as well. Apparently passenger pigeons “were so thick in the 1620s that you could hear them a quarter-hour before you saw them. A man could shoot at the birds in flight and bring down 100.”

Small birds were often roasted on a spit, while larger birds were boiled. Some were actually boiled first and then roasted to finish, or roasted and then boiled to achieve a darker sauce.

Since the Indians generously taught the invading pilgrims how to plant native crops, the English colonists seemed to have turnips, carrots, onions, garlic and pumpkins, although they lacked the wheat to make pumpkin pies. White and sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce hadn’t arrived yet.

Thanksgiving as we know it, resulted from a long campaign by Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the trendsetting magazine, Godey’s Lady’s Book. Starting in 1827, Hale petitioned 13 presidents and finally convinced Abraham Lincoln that an annual Thanksgiving would unite the country in the midst of the Civil War. Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, after which Hale published more than 10 cookbooks that included her ideas of Thanksgiving recipes.

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