19 Horrifying Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas From Vintage Food Ads

Ahhh, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a pack of cigarettes and some hearty Spam Birds, would it? Let’s dig in!

19 Strange Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas From Vintage Ads:

1. Old Gold Cigarettes w/Turkey

2. Holiday Vegetable Loaf With Apple Rings, Mashed Potatoes and “Cranberry Turkey”

3. Hot Dr. Pepper Cocktails

4. SPAM Birds

5. Mayonaise, Jell-O & Cranberry Sauce Candles

6. Mayonnaise On All The Things

7. Butter On All The Things

8. Cigarettes With All The Things

9. Beer with All The Things = Freedom

10. Banquet Frozen Thanksgiving TV Dinner

11. Orange Mallow Yam Yums

12. Duck in a Box

13. Clear Mushroom Soup With Whipped Cream

14. Frozen Jellied Turkey Vegetable Salad

via flickr.com/photos/charmandpoise

15. Bugles, Whistles and Daisy’s Trim-a-Tree Dip

via flickr.com/photos/x-ray_delta_one

16. Pumpkin Pie With Black Splotches Of Flavor Magic

17. Cranberry Surprise

Eat-Mor Cranberry Booklet, circa 1940, via flickr.com/photos/alsis35/

18. Leftover Turkey WIth Mayonaise and Jell-O

Clearly, what all this proves is that AMERICA MAKES THE BEST OF EVERYTHING! I mean, look at this guy:


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Riese is the 40-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in California. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3016 articles for us.


  1. I actually drink hot Dr. Pepper in the winter; I didn’t think anyone else did that. I wouldn’t add lemon, but it’s actually really good by itself. (Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!)

  2. The heated Dr. Pepper is mos def a regional thing. My mom’s folks from Illinois/Michigan/Wisconsin will pour a mug of Dr P and pop it in the microwave. Also, mayonnaise, Jello and meat should not be consumed in any combination. *shudders*

    • Actually my Mother used a Paula Deen turkey recipe that involved putting butter under the skin of the turkey to add moisture and it was lovely. It may have been the best one yet. So I support your butter appreciation at least on the glutton holiday.

    • yeah i think it is totally normal to make turkey like that (idk, i’ve never eaten a thanksgiving turkey), i just wanted to include that picture ’cause it’s funny. there were a lot of ads about butter; what i find interesting about it is that there’s no awareness that it’s not “good for you”? like they’re trying to sell it as something that’s healthy in the same way they’re trying to sell cigarettes and mayonnaise and beer (which is also normal), which definitely isn’t done anymore. like everyone still eats and drinks those things, but they don’t do so because they think it’s good for them in those quantities, they do so because it’s good, period.

  3. Fried Spam with eggs, Spam sandwich, Spam salad, Spam Musubi? Definitely YES!!! Spam Birds? NOOOOO!
    Also, I just picked up marshmallows, brown sugar, & a can of pineapples for Yams. It’s not Thanksgiving for my family without my Mom’s sugar infused yams. But now I’m thinking we should change the yams so it’s not loaded with sugar. Hmmmm

  4. Just heat Dr. Pepper or Diet Dr. Pepper in a saucepan until steaming hot.

    I never knew it was so simple! I’d have been making hot Dr. Pepper all this time if I’d have known! Better go catch up, and also reheat some expensive-tasting peas while I’m at it.

    (Seriously though I could eat about 1/3 of that dip tree platter in one sitting.)

  5. “Of course, you can make just about any meal something special by using butter when you cook”. Normally I’d agree with with this, but I don’t think even butter could save either of those Jell-O recipes.

  6. Pingback: 18 Weird Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas From Vintage Ads - History Daily

  7. Honestly grateful for this open thread and cheery holiday Straddler stuff online. For us introverts it’s a fine line between blissful solitude and feeling a bit lonely doing a solo Thanksgiving, and the online Autostraddle community is helping me stay firmly on the blissful solitude side.

    RN I’m at work (voluntarily; it’s wonderful because I love my lab job and I get all the science equipment to myself today).

    Later I will enter the ‘over-estimated cooking abilities with ambitious menu’ phase. Which doesn’t take much; I’m not much of a cook. But hopefully later I will be enjoying my mashed garlic yams with mushroom gravy, homemade cranberry sauce and/or cranberry bread, roasted Brussels sprouts and the traditional fresh mango for dessert heh. My first vegan Thanksgiving. I will share with my room mate hopefully, if he’s around.

    So, thanks for being here Straddlers! Happy Thanksgiving!

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