TASTE
11/26/2013 08:52 am ET

Coke Salad, Lobsters And Other Weird Thanksgiving Food Traditions

Around here, we like to say that Thanksgiving is like our Super Bowl. We've talked turkey and stuffing recipes, gravy and cranberry sauce, and on account of this year being a once-in-a-lifetime Thanksgivukkah combo deal, we've tackled brisket and latkes too. Each year we get to a point where we're not sure how much more Thanksgiving talk we can handle. But then, like clockwork, the holiday comes, we eat all the things and spend a full year getting nostalgic for doing it all over again.

Because we're never content to eat a Thanksgiving meal without one new addition to the table, I started asking around -- what dishes are mandatory on your Thanksgiving table? A dear friend John answered without hesitation, "Coca-Cola salad." I made him repeat himself. Coke salad? In what sense? He explained it was probably a Southern thing (he is from Louisiana), and that it combines cherry Jell-O with Coca-Cola and a few other things. He promised to get the recipe for me.

coke salad

Now, keeping in mind how my last Jell-O mold experiment went, I was a little more than trepidatious. But Coke salad didn't seem to contain anything too scary, and a few people I mentioned it to even seemed to have eaten it with their families. Aside from being insanely sweet, and decidedly un-salad-like, Coke salad seems to fall in line with the American tradition of calling anything suspended in Jell-O "a salad." Thanksgiving is probably the one day of the year I feel pretty willing to let that slide.

John's Mom's Coca-Cola Salad
1 bottle maraschino cherries (quartered)
1 can crushed pineapple
8oz softened cream cheese
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 Large package cherry Jell-O (I used two 3oz packages of black cherry)
12oz Coca-Cola
1 cup chopped pecans

  • Drain cherry and pineapple juices from the from the containers and bring to a boil. Dissolve cherry Jell-O in the boiling juice. Make sure it's dissolved fully, and add the Coke by pouring it into the juice slowly on the side of the bowl to prevent foaming. Refrigerate till it begins to congeal.
  • In a separate bowl thin the cream cheese with milk until you get the consistency of whipping cream. Add cherries, pineapple and pecans to cream cheese mixture and then fold into partially jelled Jell-O. Pour into mold and congeal again.

Once I knew about this, I knew there must be other, even weirder things being eaten in homes across America on Thanksgiving. A few people bravely shared their weirdest Thanksgiving traditions with me, let us know what yours are in the comments!

  • 1 Raw Stuffing
    Rob Melnychuk via Getty Images
    "This is so weird but my sister and I always picked at the raw stuffing before it went in the bird... we ended up eating so much of it that my mom started making a separate dish of raw stuffing for us every Thanksgiving, and now it's become a full blown tradition and on the list of things to make. My sister and I wake up on Thanksgiving morning and eat raw stuffing at the kitchen table for breakfast." -- Caroline Weller, Senior News and Video Editor, HuffPost Live
  • 2 Sauerkraut
  • 3 "DeeDee's Cheese"
  • 4 Lobsters
    Tetra Images -- Jamie Grill via Getty Images
    "My mom hates turkey, but knows everyone else requires it. To appease herself, as she's cooking during the day, she steams a few lobsters 'for lunch,' so she gets to eat something she likes on Thanksgiving." -- Rebecca Orchant, Associate Editor, HuffPost Taste
  • 5 Cracker Barrel
    colleengreene/Flickr
    "Does going to Cracker Barrel count?" -- Cari Wade Gervin, via Facebook
  • 6 "Pink Stuff"
  • 7 Peking Duck
    BJI/Blue Jean Images via Getty Images
    "Is this weird? Our tradition is to have BBQ Peking Duck with scallion pancakes and a hoisin-based sauce." -- Elizabeth Dickey, via Facebook
  • 8 Olives & Celery
    Muffet/Flickr
    "We do two small platters of olives and celery -- one on each end of the table -- to act as a palate cleanser." -- Mary McCartney, via Facebook
  • 9 Pickle Pinwheels
    Chronicles of a Stomach Grumble
    "My husband's family (now mine) has pickle pinwheels. A slice of thin ham spread with cream cheese, a whole half sour in the middle and then rolled up and sliced. We may have even brought them to your house for Thanksgiving that year." -- Kaci Ruh, via Facebook

    [Ed Note: They did, and I've never forgotten them.]

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