Why Do We Eat Pumpkin Pie On Thanksgiving

Why Do We Eat Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving? Explained

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Kimberlee Johnson

One of the highlights of Thanksgiving is the scrumptious pumpkin pie that adorns our dining tables. It has been a longstanding tradition in my family and I still vividly recall the first time I had a bite.

The warm, spicy aroma filled the air as my grandma pulled the pie out of the oven. But why do we eat pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? 

Well, I’ll share the fascinating story behind this beloved Thanksgiving dessert, so let’s dig in.

Why Do People Eat Pumpkin Pie During Thanksgiving?

Pumpkin Pie

Eating pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving is a cherished tradition with historical roots. Back to the early American settlers, Thanksgiving was a way to celebrate a successful harvest. 

While it’s confirmed that pumpkins were part of this celebratory meal, historical records don’t specify whether they were served as a pie-like dessert or some other way.

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” 

Jim Davis, American Cartoonist and Screenwriter

Eventually, pumpkin pie became a symbol of Thanksgiving, reminding us to be thankful for the good things we have, just like those early settlers were thankful for their harvest.

But how many pumpkin pies do people eat on Thanksgiving?

When Did Eating Pumpkin Pie At Thanksgiving Become A Tradition?

The tradition of eating pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving started in the early 19th century or 1800s. 

Pumpkin pie recipes began appearing in Canadian and American cookbooks around this time, and it slowly became a common part of Thanksgiving dinners.

“Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie is like a story without its final chapter; it completes the feast and fills our hearts with the flavors of tradition.”

Howkapow Gift Site

The Pilgrims, who settled in New England, introduced pumpkin pie to the Thanksgiving menu. 

They brought this tradition back, while the English had a different way of cooking pumpkin. 

Where Did The Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Come From?

Thanksgiving pumpkin pie comes from both Canada and the United States. A long time ago, when people first settled in these places, they found pumpkins growing there. 

But in the 1800s, that pumpkin pie became a big deal for Thanksgiving. People started writing down recipes for pumpkin pie in their cookbooks. 

This made it a famous part of Thanksgiving meals. 

While the exact roots may be hard to pinpoint, this delightful dessert has become an enduring symbol of the Thanksgiving feast in North America, celebrating the bountiful harvest and the spirit of gratitude.

What Were The Pilgrims Eating Instead Of Pumpkin Pie?

Slice of Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie was not on the Pilgrims’ menu during the first Thanksgiving. Instead, they enjoyed various foods, like local root vegetables like carrots [1] and onions, dried fruits, nuts, and venison.

The Wampanoag Native Americans and fish like bass and shellfish like mussels and lobster provide this.

Pumpkin was present but likely in a different form, perhaps stewed or roasted. 

As such, pumpkin pie, as we know it today, evolved, and the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving meal was far from the modern pumpkin pie indulgence we enjoy during the holiday.

Find out what you can eat the night before Thanksgiving here.

What Percentage Of Americans Eat Pumpkin Pie During Thanksgiving?

With its iconic seasonal spices, Pumpkin pie holds a special place on Thanksgiving tables, beloved by approximately one-third of Americans, constituting 34% of the population. 

It’s a favorite dessert this time of year because it tastes warm and spicy, just like the cozy feeling of being with family and being thankful. 

So, when you have a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, you share a tradition that many people across the country enjoy.

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What’s the least famous pie for Thanksgiving?

Lemon meringue is typically the least popular option among the Thanksgiving pie choices. 

While it may be a delightful dessert on other occasions, it often takes a backseat to more traditional and seasonally-inspired pies during the Thanksgiving feast.

What is the most popular pie in America?

The pie that most Americans like is apple pie. It’s the top choice, with more than 27% of people picking it. 

Why did the first Thanksgiving not have any desserts?

The first Thanksgiving didn’t have desserts because the early settlers needed the ingredients for making pie crusts like butter and wheat flour [2].

What food did the first Thanksgiving have?

Based on the few historical records available, the first Thanksgiving featured freshly hunted deer, various types of wild birds, cod, bass, and flint, along with a native kind of corn. 

The corn was prepared as cornbread and porridge, highlighting the ingredients available to the Pilgrims and the Native Americans at the time.

Why isn’t store-bought pumpkin pie refrigerated?

Store-bought pumpkin pies are usually not refrigerated because they are made differently. These pies are cooked at high temperatures, which helps preserve them. 

They also contain preservatives and are carefully made to be not too acidic, reducing the chances of bacteria growing in them. 

How long does a pumpkin pie stay good for?

A pumpkin pie can be safely stored in the fridge for up to four days, as the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) stated.

Final Words

The tradition of indulging in pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving is a delicious link to the past, connecting us to the early settlers who celebrated their bountiful harvests. 

Based on my research, this delectable dessert was in the 19th century, and it found its place on Canadian and American tables. 

With their unique twists, both countries contributed to the evolution of the pumpkin pie as a Thanksgiving staple. 

So, when you savor that first bite of velvety pumpkin pie, remember its rich history, symbolizing gratitude for the abundance of the harvest and the enduring spirit of this cherished holiday.


Kimberlee Johnson
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