This Thursday is Thanksgiving, a time when Americans gather with family and loved ones to share a traditional meal. Thanksgiving Day, November 24, has remained the same since President Abraham Lincoln first made it a national holiday in 1863, but the menu has changed many times since then. To help you get a better idea of just how much Thanksgiving meals have evolved, here’s a comparison of a Thanksgiving menu in 1966 and a typical menu for this year.

Thanksgiving Then And Now

Today, the deep fried turkey has become an American Thanksgiving staple. Although Vogue reported that the dish was first publically recognized in the 1930s, it didn’t really catch on until the 70s. In the 60s, the typical oven-roasted turkey reigned supreme.

Along with turkey, mincemeat was also traditionally served at this festive meal, with a Thanksgiving menu from 1961 naming “two-layered pumpkin-mince pie” as a main dish. According to NBCNews, mincemeat was first served at Thanksgiving as a religious protest. Mincemeat was traditionally a Christmas dish, but because many Protestants found Christmas “too Catholic,” they chose to make this traditional meal on Thanksgiving instead. Today, however, mince has mostly disappeared from the menu and been replaced by other meat dishes such as ham.

dinner Thanksgiving dinner has changed a lot through the years; here's a look at the meal's evolution since 1966. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Green bean casserole is a staple for most Thanksgiving meals, but this dish was still a novelty in the 1960s, having only been invented in 1955 by a Campbell Soup employee named Dorcas Reilly. The dish is made with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and French’s fried onions, and soon gained popularity, LiveScience reported. You’ll still likely find it on today’s menu as well.

Giblet is a culinary term used to describe edible organs of fowl, such as the heart, gizzard, and liver, and in the 1960s giblet gravy reigned. Along with giblets, the dish also included drippings of oil and grease from the actual turkey, flour, and broth. However, nowadays, most gravies are heated up from a can.

Gelatin-based dishes and desserts were very popular in the 1960s, and certain to be found at a Thanksgiving meal during this time period. According to The Daily Meal, in the 1950s and 60s home refrigerators were still an expensive item, so being able to make refrigerated dishes, such as gelatin-based dishes, was a sign of one's status. As a result, these recipes caught on with middle-class America. Today, gelatin-based desserts have nearly disappeared at the Thanksgiving table, instead replaced by an array of pies.

Portion Sizes

It’s not just the dishes themselves that have evolved in the last 50 years; the amount that the average American eats has also increased substantially, according to ABC News. This increase in portion sizes is directly linked to an increase in obesity in the U.S. Today, the Calorie Control Council reports that the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and enough fat to make three sticks of butter on Thanksgiving Day.