I have no idea how many turkeys will be eaten at Thanksgiving this year, nor of the number of pumpkin pies, nor indeed of the quantities of any other of the standard dishes for the day. I can tell you, however, how many were consumed at Thanksgiving in Connecticut in 1817 – assuming, that is, that the information in Niles' Weekly Register (Vol. XVI) of 1819 is accurate.
From the New-York Commercial Advertiser. Messrs. Lewis and Hall, - to shew the immense quantity of provisions &c. consumed in Connecticut at thanksgiving, I send you a calculation, made as accurate as possible, calculating the number of families in the state, which I think is not far from being correct.
Bill of fare for thanksgiving dinner in Connecticut, Nov. 1817.
Geese 50,000 DESSERT
Turkeys 5.550 Pumpkin pies 520,000
Chickens 65,000 Apple pies 100,000
Ducks 2,000 Other pies and
Beef & Pork 25,000 lbs puddings 52,000
Potatoes 12,000 bush. Wine gall. 150
Turnips 14,000 Brandy 150
Beets 4,000 Gin 120
Onions 5,000 Rum 1,000
Cheese 10,000 lbs. Cider, Brandy and
Apple sauce 12,000 gall. Whiskey 600
Cranberry do. 1,000
Which would take 650 hhds. strained pumpkin; 81 do. of molasses; 4060 lbs. ginger; 7000 lbs. allspice; 86,665 hhds. of milk of 100 galls. Each; 1000 nutmegs; 50 lbs. cinnamon; 43,333 dozen eggs – all which would weigh about 504 tons, and would cost about 114,000 dollars.
As the recipe for the day I give you a simple apple sauce from an American cookery book of the same era as the above story.
Apple Sauce, for Goose or roast Pork.
Pare, core, and slice, some apples; and put them in a stone jar, into a saucepan of water, or on a hot hearth. If on a hearth, let a spoonful or two of water be put in, to hinder them from burning. When they are done, bruise them to a mush, and put to them a piece of butter the size of a nutmeg, and a little brown sugar. Serve it in a sauce-tureen,
American Domestic Cookery: Formed on Principles of Economy,
for the Use of Private Families (1823) by Maria Rundell.