AAA reports that Thanksgiving travel is expected to return to near pre-pandemic levels. While the gatherings may look more like those pre-pandemic events, the table and the foods on it might look a little different.
Thanksgiving meals have always reflected the times, and they’ve evolved over the years. In the ’60s, mincemeat pies were considered the height of sophistication for the holiday. In the ’70s, Jell-O molds were a popular side dish. The 2000s have brought brussels sprouts, cauliflower, creamed kale, and wild mushroom stuffing to many tables.
Here are the trends, culinary and otherwise, that are shaping what this year’s Thanksgiving feasts will look like — and what customers will be shopping for.
Credit Instagram for this one. Not everybody can bake gourmet appetizers, but just about anyone can compile a photograph-worthy spread from some combination of cheeses, fruits, cured meats, nuts, jams and crackers. More ambitious foodies can try to copy some of the elaborate Thanksgiving charcuterie boards they see on the internet, which also include beautifully presented desert boards.
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options
More Americans are cutting animal products or gluten out of their diet. Thankfully, with its abundant side dishes, Thanksgiving makes it easy to accommodate them. Forget the Tofurky: stuffed squash makes for a much more tasteful, show-stopping vegetarian entree. Meanwhile, milk and butter can easily be swapped out of most side dish recipes with alternatives like oat milk and vegan butter or coconut oil.
For the last decade so, many Americans have been doing Thanksgiving twice as part of a new tradition deemed “Friendsgiving,” a term that was coined around 2008. These meals tend to be less traditional and more potluck-style than old-fashioned family Thanksgiving, and they’ve grown popular quickly. A survey from Jennie-O Turkey Store found that this year 42% of respondents plan on joining one of these friend-centric gatherings.
Locally sourced foods
Here’s another trend that’s quickly gained momentum in recent years: the Local Thanksgiving Challenge. As shoppers have grown more concerned about where their food comes from, many are using the holiday as a chance to support as many local purveyors as possible, with everything from locally sourced turkey, produce and honey. Grocers can assist them with displays that highlight local suppliers.
Shopping around supply chain issues
This last trend is beyond shoppers’ control. Some of their usual ingredients may be less available than usual this season because of global supply chain issues. The disruptions aren’t expected to be catastrophic, but they could impact the availability of turkey, frozen pie and pastry shells and possibly even cranberry sauce, CBS reports.
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