Pass the Turkey, Say Americans

by Joseph Carroll

Turkey is Americans' favorite Thanksgiving food; cranberries least favorite

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- As Americans get ready to sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this week, they may be asking their family members to pass the turkey, but hold the cranberries and vegetables. A new Gallup Poll, conducted Nov. 19-21, finds that turkey is Americans' favorite food at Thanksgiving dinner, far outweighing any other holiday dish. Cranberries or cranberry sauce, vegetables, and sweet potatoes or yams are the least favorite foods.

Pass the Turkey …

Gallup asked Americans to identify, without prompting, their favorite food or dish at their families' usual Thanksgiving dinner. Nearly half of all Americans, 49%, say turkey is their favorite. No other food Americans mention comes close to turkey as the preferred dish. Stuffing or dressing comes in second, mentioned by 14% of respondents. Ham, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie are each mentioned by 5% of those polled.

Favorite Thanksgiving Food or Dish


Thinking about your family's usual Thanksgiving dinner, what would you say is your favorite food or dish?

 

Nov 19-21, 2004

%

Turkey

49

Stuffing/dressing

14

Ham

5

Mashed potatoes

5

Pumpkin pie

5

Sweet potatoes/yams

3

Dessert (non-specific)

3

Cranberries/cranberry sauce

2

Casseroles (other)

1

Vegetables (other)

1

Chicken

1

Salad

1

Pecan pie

1

Beef

1

Green bean casserole

1

 

Other

3

Any/all

2

None

1

No opinion

1

Men and women differ slightly in their preferences for Thanksgiving dishes. Although turkey is the clear favorite of both men and women, men are somewhat more likely to say turkey is their favorite dish. Women are just slightly more likely to say stuffing or dressing is their favorite food.

Favorite Thanksgiving Food or Dish
by gender
Nov 19-21, 2004

Men

Women

%

%

Turkey

53

45

Stuffing/dressing

11

16

Ham

7

4

Mashed potatoes

3

7

Pumpkin pie

5

6

Sweet potatoes/yams

2

5

Dessert (non-specific)

1

4

Cranberries/cranberry sauce

2

2

While people of all age groups choose turkey as their favorite Thanksgiving dish, older Americans are much more likely to say so than are younger Americans.

Favorite Thanksgiving Food or Dish
by age
Nov 19-21, 2004

 

 

 

18- to
29-year-olds

30- to
49-year-olds

50 years
and older

%

%

%

Turkey

40

45

56

Stuffing/dressing

15

16

11

Ham

5

5

6

Mashed potatoes

9

6

3

Pumpkin pie

6

7

3

Sweet potatoes/yams

4

2

3

Dessert (non-specific)

3

3

2

Cranberries/cranberry sauce

2

1

3

… Hold the Cranberries

When asked to name their least favorite food or dish at Thanksgiving dinner, 21% of Americans mention cranberries or cranberry sauce. The entire class of vegetables, including squash, green beans, brussels sprouts, turnips, broccoli, peas, onions or creamed onions, and others, follows closely behind, at 17%, though at most 2% mention any specific vegetable. Roughly 1 in 10 Americans (11%) say sweet potatoes or yams are their least favorite food.

Least Favorite Thanksgiving Food or Dish


Still thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, what would you say is your least favorite food or dish?

 

Nov 19-21, 2004

%

Cranberries/cranberry sauce

21

NET: vegetables

17

Squash

(2)

Green beans

(2)

Brussels sprouts

(2)

Turnips

(2)

Broccoli

(1)

Peas

(1)

Onions/creamed onions

(1)

Other (vegetables)

(6)

Sweet potatoes/yams

11

Stuffing/dressing

6

Turkey

6

Pumpkin pie

3

Green bean casserole

3

Salad

3

Dessert (non-specific)

2

Mashed potatoes

1

Ham

1

Minced meat pie

1

Other (casseroles)

1

Gravy

1

Beef

1

 

Other

5

Any/all

1

None

12

No opinion

4

The data show essentially no difference between men and women on this measure, with both groups saying cranberries or cranberry sauce, vegetables, and sweet potatoes or yams are their least favorite foods.

The data do show some slight variations by age.

  • Four types of food are essentially tied as the least preferred among 18- to 29-year-olds: cranberries/cranberry sauce, stuffing or dressing, sweet potatoes or yams, and vegetables.

  • Adults aged 30 to 49 say their least favorite food is cranberries or cranberry sauce, at 27%. Vegetables follow, at 21%, and sweet potatoes or yams are next, at 14%.

  • The least favorite Thanksgiving foods among those aged 50 and older are vegetables (16%) and cranberries or cranberry sauce (15%). Turkey and sweet potatoes or yams (7% each) are also mentioned by adults in this age group as their least favorite dishes.

Least Favorite Thanksgiving Food or Dish
by age
Nov 19-21, 2004

 

 

 

18- to 29-
year-olds

30- to 49-
year-olds

50 years
and older

%

%

%

Cranberries/cranberry sauce

19

27

15

NET: vegetables

13

21

16

Squash

(4)

(3)

(1)

Green beans

(3)

(3)

(1)

Brussels sprouts

(1)

(2)

(2)

Turnips

(--)

(2)

(2)

Broccoli

(2)

(2)

(1)

Peas

(*)

(1)

(1)

Onions/creamed onions

(--)

(1)

(1)

Other (vegetables)

(3)

(7)

(7)

Stuffing/dressing

15

4

5

Sweet potatoes/yams

13

14

7

Turkey

3

6

7

Thanksgiving as the Favorite Holiday?

The poll also asked Americans to determine which of three upcoming holidays -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's -- is their favorite. Thanksgiving, at 27%, comes in a distant second to Christmas, at 63%. Only 9% of Americans say New Year's is their favorite of these three late fall and winter holidays.

Although the majority of people in each age group say Christmas is their favorite holiday, New Year's fares better among younger Americans, while Thanksgiving rates better among older Americans.

  • Almost the same percentage of Americans aged 18 to 29 pick Thanksgiving (20%) and New Year's (19%) as their favorite holidays. 

  • Thanksgiving ranks better than New Year's among 30- to 49-year-olds, by a margin of 26% to 11%.

  • Among adults aged 50 and older, 30% choose Thanksgiving as their favorite holiday, compared with just 4% who choose New Year's.

Favorite Holiday
by age
Nov 19-21, 2004

18- to
29-year-olds

30- to
49-year-olds

50 years
and older

Thanksgiving

20%

26

30

Christmas

61%

62

63

New Year's

19%

11

4

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,015 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Nov. 19-21, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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