Northwest Missourian Opinion

Ranking things is a fun activity used for everything from movies to quarterbacks. A ranking that will actually aid people a lot on the last Thursday of November is finally here.

The day will likely be filled with the same foods that are for some reason only eaten on Thanksgiving and never seen again. Seriously, not a single human being in history regularly eats stuffing, and nobody really knows why.

The name of the game on Thanksgiving is getting more value per plate space and never wasting space on a useless vegetable when it’s possible to get a double serving of mashed potatoes. This is why understanding which foods to take up plate space with is crucial to Thanksgiving success.

Also, I can’t emphasize this enough: stacking is highly important to Thanksgiving success. Meat, stuffing and rolls can always be stacked to conserve more space for the 19 casseroles that people decided to bring.

When considering all these things, the most important part about Thanksgiving is food selection. It is crucial to understand the proper rankings of Thanksgiving food and what deserves to be on the all-important first plate and what should remain buried in the fruit section of the counter where it belongs.

To keep things simple, the foods will be ranked into three categories, “must-haves,” “don’t waste my time” and “overrated.” With all that being said, let’s get into what matters: the rankings.


These foods are required for all Thanksgiving meals, they are the cream of the crop, the food that makes me jump in line with all the kids that go first so I can get them while they are nice and hot.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are the cornerstone of any good Thanksgiving plate. They can go with almost any other food on the plate, taste delicious and don’t take up that much room if you mix in other foods with them or stack. Arguably, the best version of the most versatile ingredient known to man.

Green Bean Casserole

The survey that has this food as the least favorite side must have only surveyed people with no taste buds. This is one of the best casseroles of the 4 billion that are featured at Thanksgiving. Green bean casserole is delectable and healthy ’cause, duh, it’s got green beans in it, and those are healthy because they are green.


There is literally no reason to not eat these, besides gluten intolerance, and even then, maybe just give it a shot. They clean up the extra gravy on the plate and go well with every food. They are bread and bread is delicious — for sure a must-have food.


This may not count as a food per se because it is a liquid, but this is my ranking, so I make the rules. This delicious liquid can take a plate from meh to amazing with just one ladle. Mashed potatoes are instantly upgraded, there is something to pick up with the roll, and if Dad overcooked the turkey, gravy can make it edible. A jack of all trades when it comes to Thanksgiving, gravy is a must-have.

Cheesy Potato Casserole

If this isn’t at Thanksgiving, leave immediately. Potatoes are easily the most versatile ingredient in American cuisine and this dish highlights them well. Cheese and potatoes — what could go wrong? Absolutely nothing. I ate an entire casserole pan of this a few years ago and regretted nothing.

Don’t Waste My Time

These foods are a waste of space both on the plate and in the stomach. There is only so much a person can eat on Thanksgiving and these dishes are not part of the agenda.

Salad (any kind)

Regardless if it’s fruit salad, caesar salad or beet salad — if you are Dwight Schrute — I don’t care. Don’t waste my time. I can eat salad almost every other day of the year, so there is no reason to waste effort, energy and digestion on these. Eating healthy has not been and will never be my Thanksgiving tradition.

Cranberry Sauce

It doesn’t matter if it’s the homemade kind that looks like red vomit or that disturbing gelatinous blob that “shonks” out of the tin can it was in onto the dinner table, this food is a for sure no go. It does not look appetizing at all, to begin with, and when you taste it, it’s even worse.

Oyster Stuffing

Who is this even for? I’d like to meet the person that thought, “You know what? Stuffing could be improved if we added those little seafood boogers to it.” I love seafood, and that’s a terrible idea. Let the weird uncle go to town on this one and steer clear.

Brussels Sprouts

“But they are good when covered with cheese.” Yeah, but potatoes are way better, bud, so why would I choose to eat a worse food that tastes mildly OK covered in cheese?

Potato Salad

Lukewarm or cold potatoes, mustard, mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs and relish: that’s gross. I’ll say it louder for the people in the back; potatoes are not meant to be eaten cold!


These are dishes heavily featured at every Thanksgiving but are only eaten out of tradition and obligation, not actual enjoyment.


Turkey is like chicken but worse. It’s not particularly tasty, is so easy to overcook and is just overall average to below average as a food. I personally go for ham over turkey if they have it. At least turkey makes good gravy, so that’s a bonus.


A soggy, bread-like substance stuffed into a turkey or stove top soggy bread substance, either way, it’s just meh. The process of how actual stuffing is made is enough to make many gag, and the flavor that you get is just OK afterwards. That’s probably why it’s only eaten one day a year.

Sweet Potato Anything

Sweet potatoes are just not very good. Yams are fine, but not the Thanksgiving cornerstone they are made out to be. Pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie are nearly the same dish except for the fact that pumpkin is better. Sweet potatoes are a disappointment to the potato name for sure.

Final Thoughts

The Lions and Cowboys are playing, the same five questions will be asked by every relative over the age of thirty and naps will be needed. Get plenty of the must-haves and avoid Brussels sprouts and oysters and everything will be. Happy eating!

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