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How Technology Has Influenced Thanksgiving

Pumpkin pie image

The pilgrims and the Native Americans sat down to an autumn harvest feast in 1621, and the first Thanksgiving was born. One thing you may not know, however, is that the tradition of Thanksgiving has been updated throughout the years. For example, when Abraham Lincoln first declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, turkey became the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. In reality, however, scholars are not sure that turkey would’ve been on the pilgrims’ original Thanksgiving table. Many of the side foods that have also become part of the Thanksgiving tradition (potatoes and marshmallows, for example) also did not grace American tables until decades later.

Thanksgiving celebrations have changed throughout the years, and been influenced by technology. In this article, we’ll explore the ways that technology has changed the way we experience the Thanksgiving.

Food Preparation

Though many of the foods we eat resemble traditional fare, we have updated our cooking tactics. Most ovens are now gas or electric instead of wood burning and we have more tools to make sure our food is cooked to safe temperatures and free from germs. The invention of meat thermometers, digital timers and electric carving knives have all created a safer and more convenient atmosphere in the Thanksgiving kitchen.

We also have options for how we cook our turkeys as well! Whether you like your turkey roasted, deep fried, turducken-style, or another way, you have the technology to cook your bird. Since 1989, there has even been a Butterball Turkey Hotline to help Thanksgiving cooks know what to do in the kitchen.

How is technology affecting our modern Thanksgiving food preparation? We now have apps for every task, including recipe search and storage with Paprika, shopping lists with Anylist, cocktail recipes with Lush, and wine pairings with HelloVino. Spotify even has a specialized “Turkey Timer,” which builds a custom playlist designed to last the entire length of time that your turkey will be in the oven.  If you wanted, you could also use an app to order a Thanksgiving meal cooked for you.

Food Storage

Believe it or not, leftovers have not been a part of Thanksgiving tradition forever. Multiple advancements in technology during the 1950s and 1960s led to the fixtures of our modern food storage experience such as refrigerators, microwaves and Tupperware.  Without these advances, we’d miss out on the post-Turkey Day Turkey that we all know and love.

Thanksgiving Experience

Not all Thanksgiving traditions are built around food. Each family has different ways that they celebrate this day, but many watch football or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. Advancements in television technology brought these traditions into our homes.

Current technology has also changed the ways in which Americans experience Thanksgiving. With Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and other navigation apps on our phones, you don’t have to argue about the best way to get to Grandma’s house. Or, if certain family members are unable to make it to the table, you can use applications like Skype or Facetime to include them in your celebration.

No matter how your family celebrates Thanksgiving, odds are that technology has helped to make the day more convenient or special. These updates to traditions can be a part of what make certain holidays so special.

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