Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers and Traditions

When it comes to Thanksgiving, we all have our own habits and traditions, from watching the game with your family (while checking out the brand-new sportsbook ESPN BET Ohio) to breaking a wishbone for good luck. Even leftovers have their own traditions. Do you reheat the remnants to eat while watching holiday movies? Maybe you prefer to pick at leftovers while browsing Black Friday deals online -or are you (like Ross Geller from Friends and his infamous ‘moist maker’) a devotee of the leftover sandwich? 

There’s also the pivotal question of timing – what’s the best time to sit down for Thanksgiving dinner? And, of course, what topics of conversation would we all prefer to steer clear of at the dinner table? 

We conducted a 3,000-person survey to find out what Americans think about Thanksgiving, asking about everything from our favorite leftovers to the optimum time to eat dinner, and what we want to talk about while we enjoy a slice of turkey. Read on to find out Americans' opinions on the holiday. 

America’s Favorite Thanksgiving Leftovers

Well, the results are in, and America’s favorite Thanksgiving leftover is the focal point of the whole meal: the turkey! The main attraction during dinner still reigns supreme when we’re looking for leftovers in the fridge the next day, with 62% of Americans voting roast turkey as the must-have leftover. After all, what’s a leftover sandwich without a succulent slice of turkey? 

Forty one states voted turkey the best leftover, with just nine holdouts and only two other options for the top spot across the US. Seven states selected stuffing as the superior post-Thanksgiving food, making it the second most popular leftover option overall. 

While it was the third most popular leftover option across the US overall with 47% of the vote, just two states picked mashed potatoes – and no, Idaho wasn’t one of them. Connecticut and Nebraska picked potatoes as their must-have leftover. Maybe that’s less of a surprise for Nebraska, at least, which is in the top 10 potato-producing states. 

Of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without plenty of sweet treats, and we round out our top five with apple pie and pumpkin pie, coming in neck and neck at 42% and 41% respectively. 

Least Favorite Thanksgiving Leftovers

However, when it comes to the least popular items, there’s a shock in store – sprouts were not America’s least favorite Thanksgiving leftover! 

In a surprise upset, that dubious honor instead goes to turnips, netting a meager 8% of the vote for favorite leftovers. However, the humble sprout didn’t make it out unscathed. Brussels sprouts come in at a close second for the country’s least-liked leftover, with just 10% of people picking them as their favorite dish. Other steer-clear leftovers included grilled vegetables, with 12% of the vote, and the traditional but divisive yams, at 18%. 

Alternative Leftovers

Our survey respondents also suggested a few must-have alternatives for their favorite leftovers, which ranged from the deeply delicious to the absurd. Some won’t come as a huge surprise, like our responders who said they often had mac and cheese or potato salad. There was also plenty of love for the sweeter treats, like sweet potato pie or cherry pie. But some were a bit more unusual – whipped cream, deep-fried pickles, and peas with pearl onions were some of the more unexpected responses we had. 

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Most Popular Time to Sit Down for Thanksgiving Dinner

When it comes to sitting down for the all-important meal, most people preferred a late lunch – 2-3pm was the most popular slot with 20% of the vote. But by finding the mean from all of our respondents, we’ve worked out the ideal time for Thanksgiving dinner: 3:28pm

There’s plenty to recommend this (admittedly very specific) time. It gives you enough time to actually prepare, cook, and serve all the various parts of the Thanksgiving meal, with plenty of time to rest the turkey and set the table – and you don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn to start chopping and cooking. But, crucially, it’s not so late that you’re spending the whole day waiting around for the meal to start and not sitting down to eat right before bedtime. 

The Atlantic agrees, recommending 4pm as the optimum moment for Thanksgiving dinner, a mere half hour after our recommended time. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post suggests that you need to give yourself at least 2-3 hours to digest everything before going to bed, so sitting down at 3:28pm gives you plenty of time to let your food settle. 

The Conversations To Avoid During Thanksgiving Dinner

Of course, no matter what time you sit down to eat, one of the big worries on everyone’s mind at Thanksgiving is the conversation around the table. 
And the biggest conversation topic we all want to avoid? Family disputes, with 59% of Americans saying they dreaded it being brought up. In a close second, there’s the always-divisive topic of politics, with 52% of us intending to steer clear of political talk while we’re eating. In a similar vein, controversial current events and news are a no-no, with 43% of the vote. 

Our responders had plenty of suggestions for what they would talk about, however – and the number one write-in pick was sports, with more than 30% of respondents preferring to chat about the big game. There were also plenty of other wholesome picks for the conversations people are happy to have around the Thanksgiving table, with lots of people looking forward to catching up with family and loved ones and discussing heartwarming topics such as gratitude and thankfulness, what the grandchildren have been up to, or plans for the year ahead.

If you enjoyed this research item, make room for another holiday effort from the team at Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes in Ohio.

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