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Test Pattern: Twinkies for Thanksgiving?

Blue Stuff, Hamloaf, Lee Press-On Olives, and other food traditions. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Weird foods from our holiday tables: Blue Stuff, Hamloaf, Lee Press-On Olives, and more

Oh yes, : The Thanksgiving and other holiday side dishes that you'll never see Martha Stewart demonstrating. But darn it, tradition is tradition, and whether your tradition is Twinkies or Blue Stuff, it wouldn't be holiday time without it. Here are some of the special (if "special"="weird") foods we'll be seeing on our tables in just a few days' time.

Kibbles and Bits“My grandmother would every year make this really strange jello concontion with shredded carrots and celery!! Too weird! My cousins named this dish Kibbles and Bits for the little chunks. Grandma would make for Christmas another lovely jello salad with blueberries and cranberries and other stuff. She finally got the clue when no one would eat the salad and thankfully the salad got smaller and smaller every year until one year she didn’t make either. Grandma died five years ago and I have to admit I miss seeing those weird salads at Thanksgiving and Christmas.”    --Brenda

Blue Stuff“My family really doesn’t care for cranberries in any form, so to replace that we have a dish that is simply called Blue Stuff (original and creative, isn’t it?), which is any kind of blue jello and blueberry pie filling (which replaces the cold water). Simple, easy and so much better tasting!”    --CJ

Jones Soda report
"Last weekend me and my friends decided to try the Jones Soda Holiday Pack flavers. We decided to drink them in the order they would generally be eaten at a meal, starting with Turkey and working up to Pumpkin Pie. The Turkey and Gravy smells EXACTLY like turkey and gravy, the taste is awful though, kinda like soda water mixed with sweet n low. The Herb Stuffing was again like soda water, only this time mixed with salt. Cranberry sauce was totally drinkable, actually it was kind of good. The Brussels Sprout Casserole was BY FAR the worst of the bunch, making half of us throw up. I'm not even sure how to describe the taste. It was just SO bad. And finally the pumpkin pie, it wasn't necessarily bad, but it wasn't good either. All in all, I'm glad I drank them, but just to say I did."    --Jamie

Not easy being green“Daddy only wanted dumplings, my mother sweet potatoes, with the rest of us going for the dressing. So every year when it was time to buy groceries mother always quavered, “Don’t you think we should have a green vegetable?” I always wondered who would eat it (no one) and where to fit it in on the table. All these years later, I make her sit down to do a grocery list just so I can hear her ask that quavery little question again. The family line-up has changed—Daddy’s gone and I’m a grandmother now—but the menu is ever constant. Turkey, dumplings, sweet potatoes and dressing. No room for green here!”    --Mitzi

Poor man's lasagna“Oh my gosh! My husband’s family cannot let a holiday pass by without the traditional servings of Franco-American canned spaghetti and cottage cheese. (Sort of a poor man’s lasagna?) After 27 years of this, I still have only one thing to say, “YUCK!”  --Vicki

Sunshine salad“My grandmother always insisted on having “sunshine salad” at Thanksgiving. It is Lemon jello prepared with grated carrots and pineapple inside. While the dish is very colorful, I have NEVER eaten it. It is a Thanksgiving requirement in my family.”    --Meredith

Wanted: Jello Fluff!“I do not have a goofy dish, but I want one. I’ve been to Thanksgiving dinners at people’s houses, and there is this totally empty-calorie dish of Cool Whip and Jello somehow mingled into “Fluff.” It is a complete mystery to me how anybody makes that dish—and it is just so trailer park. I love it! If anyone sends you Jello Fluff as a dish, will you print a link to the recipe?”    --Amy

Fluffy whipped fish“SALMON MOUSSE....Eek! I don’t personally eat this dish, but my grandmother INSISTS on making it for EVERY FAMILY MEAL. And surprisingly, most of my family eats it. I’m scared of it. I mean... come on! Who likes fluffy whipped fish? (The would probably like the smoked salmon soda!!)”    --Tiffany

Follow the Post-It Notes“Well our entire Thanksgiving is a bit strange. Half of my family members are strict vegetarians, and the other half will eat anything as long as it’s no longer moving. So my poor mother slaves away all day to make a vegetarian version of everything: gravy, stuffing, green beans (no ham added), etc. Also, there are post-it notes all over our table so we know what has animal products and what doesn’t. So our family of 6 has a spread that could easily feed a small country...or at least a small PETA conference.”    --Jane

Cheez Whiz-filled celery“Cheez whiz filled celery. Love it. Embarassed by it. I haven’t had it in years since I have my own family now, and I didn’t want my in-laws to know about this horrible secret, but tradition has won out, and I bought a jar of Cheese Whiz for the first time to fill my own celery and let my girls discover the joy of licking the goo out of the celery (and maybe, just maybe, take a bite or two).”    --Toni

The Massacre“Our most embarassing Thanksgiving dish has to be the broccoli casserole, known for many years only as “The Massacre”. Broccoli, butter, Velveeta and Ritz crackers. I think the original recipe may have called for margarine! Eek! Even more embarassing...eating it cold on a sandwich the next day!”    --Trish

Lee Press-On Olives“Thanksgiving and Christmas are the few time a year my mother sets out hors d’oerves, and I always look forward to the tray of green olives—not so much to eat as to dig out the pimento (icky!) and then wear the olives on the ends of my fingers like fancy fingernails. You would think I have outgrown this now that I am in my 30s, but my sister and I still enjoy doing this precisely because it bugs my mother so much.”    --Wendy

Mashed Rutabaga“Mashed rutabaga. I’ve never heard of anyone else having it, but it was part of every Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s & then at my mom’s house. Best served with lots of butter. It’s actually really good, if obscure.”    --Pam

Healthy Jello“My mother makes “healthy” vegetable/jell-o mixes that color match. Usually it’s orange jell-o with carrots or green jello with lima beans and peanuts. The worst tasting is the red jello mixed with cottage cheese which turns an ugly pink color.”    -- Anonymous because my mother thinks these items are delicious

Lima Bean Casserole and Strawberry Jello-Pretzel Salad“Although I’ve never eaten it - because it lacks all appeal, my uncle always makes his “Lima Bean Casserole” for all the holiday suppers. Lots of people like it, but I can’t seem to bring myself to eat it. But, I do make a “strawberry jello pretzel salad” thing with cream cheese and coolwhip that is to die for. Crazy name but super yummy.”  --Stacie

Hamloaf“Hamloaf. As in a meatloaf made with ham. I’m not kidding. (And it’s actually delicious.)”  --Heather

Twinkie the Kid“It is not Thanksgiving at my family’s home unless the dessert table is stocked with Twinkies. One year, my grandma tried to fancy them up by stacking them on a platter, but it didn’t stick with our family. The cowboy twinkie printed box has to be set in the center of the table next to mom’s pumpkin pie and grandma’s crystal platter of dainty cookies. And you haven’t finished your twinkie until you lick the residue (my brothers call it twinkidue) off of the cardboard bottom that is adhered to all twinkies.”    --S

Don't knock the can-shaped cranberry sauceSeattle-based Jones Soda has brought back its line of , including such flavors as turkey and gravy, wild herb stuffing and pumpkin pie (don't get me started on the salmon soda, ye gads!).

I know these beverages aren't alcoholic, but I seriously hope a bunch of bars stock them, because they sound more applicable to bar bets than to serious sipping. ("Hey, if you can finish an entire bottle of salmon soda, you've got to buy a round for the whole bar!")

Still, it got me thinking. We all know about the traditional Norman Rockwell-esque Thanksgiving meal -- the golden turkey, the fluffy mashed potatoes, the gorgeous pumpkin and mince pies. What I'm wondering about is the dark side of the Thanksgiving meal. Is there a weird dish that your family can't do without at holiday time, but that you're a little embarrassed about loving?

I'm one of those advocates for cranberry sauce in the shape of the can. Not the froofy berry-pocked version, but the kind that is as smooth as a hockey rink that's just been Zambonied, except for the can-side ridges that give it a little bit of zing. I remember times in the past when the server of the can-shaped sauce would try to hack it up, to make it look a little more Martha Stewarty and a little less cylindrical, but I'm no advocate of that! Give in to the shape of the can!

Coming from Minnesota, I've also seen more than a few hot dishes on Thanksgiving tables. Yeah, those of you from the rest of the country might call them "casseroles," but we know the truth. Something made primarily of canned soup, perhaps with green beans and French-fried onions mixed in, is a hot dish, and there's no fancying it up with a longer name.

What's your family's most embarrassing Thanksgiving dish? If you have one, drop a line and share. And if you've tried the Jones holiday sodas, tell us how those are, too. Although they are perhaps better left to the imagination.