Museum documents in the form of correspondence and diary pages from settlers and the Mayflower; along with marketing records for smaller department stores, F&R Lazarus, and the larger Federated Department Stores enterprise and big business in 1840 show that the scenario of black-and-white dressed Pilgrims and pies did not appear at the First Thanksgiving at all. The first harvest failed. The popular story is a marketing ploy invented by a female advertising person for a department store in the US East in 1840 – revisionist history written to make the English settlers more sympathetic and to garner more Holiday Shopping dollars. I had ancestors that saw it all happen. This need not ruin Thanksgiving, but many people are tired of the lies.
The Pilgrims stayed in England. The poorest of the poor were sent to America and called themselves “saints.” They brought kegs of beer, according to historic records and eye-witness accounts, and no seed for crops. They did not plan ahead, thinking everything they’d need would be in the New World, and their governor was disgusted at one point – although he should have accepted some of the responsibility. His edict of He who does not work shall not eat was not only necessary, but NOT one that would have been used on disciplined and hard working Pilgrims.
Native Americans provided most of the food, along with 90 uninvited guests – traditions that surprised the 1621 English. The natives provides all of the corn – 10 acres of it. There were no pies, because there was no wheat to grind into flour! Puddings of the day – like pies without crusts – were made instead. The food was good and we have the original recipes form The Ohio State University, whose staff researched the first gathering and the foods.