Survey Says These Thanksgiving Sides Are ‘The Worst’

While every dish has its place on the table, people, well, have opinions.

November 08, 2021

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Photo by: VeselovaElena/Getty


Planning a festive Thanksgiving gathering this year? You’re definitely not the only one.

The vast majority of Americans — fully 91 percent — are planning to partake in a Thanksgiving dinner this year, according to an online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Instacart.

And while more than half of Americans (55 percent) say they anticipate having fewer than 10 people at their 2021 Thanksgiving table (and 22 percent say they’re keeping it small, with four people or fewer), a sizable chunk of us (37 percent, or more than one in three) are hatching plans for a holiday meal with 10 people or more.

While most of us — 71 percent — are planning to stay local for Thanksgiving, celebrating in the town or city we call home, a traditional Thanksgiving meal is definitely in the cards for most of us this year: Fully 85 percent of us are hatching plans to enjoy turkey and all the usual sides with our friends and family, according to Instacart’s Third Annual Turkey Day Exposé.

But all sides are not equal. While many of us wouldn’t think to serve a Thanksgiving meal without stuffing, salad or sweet potatoes of some sort, the Instacart/Harris poll has revealed that each of those beloved-by-many Thanksgiving side-dish staples have a sizable share of haters.

The poll asked respondents which sides they considered to be “the worst.” And? Well, let’s just say … more candied yams for us, because 27 percent of U.S. adults believe they are the worst Thanksgiving side dish.

Also widely disdained (surprisingly, we imagine, for those who adore them) were green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole, with 25 percent, 24 percent and 21 percent of Americans, respectively, saying they are “the worst” Thanksgiving side dishes.

Meanwhile, 12 percent of us have strong negative feelings about stuffing, and another 12 about salad, ranking them “the worst.” And uncontroversial as they may seem, both mashed potatoes and dinner rolls had their haters, with 8 percent and 7 percent of respondents, respectively, naming them “the worst.”

Further wading into controversy, Instacart asked respondents whether they preferred homemade or canned cranberry sauce. The poll showed almost an even split, with homemade just edging out canned: 37 percent to 35 percent.

(Fully 21 percent skip cranberry sauce entirely on Thanksgiving. And three percent have never even tried cranberry sauce. So uncurious!)

And those canned-cranberry-sauce fans really mean it: Sixty-eight percent of those who prefer canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving want see it served still in the shape of the can; only 27 percent of them would rather it be mashed up so it looks homemade.

“There are different reasons why consumers may prefer canned cranberry sauce including tradition, flavor, nostalgia, texture, convenience, or the fact that it can be served on a dish in the shape of a can, which adds an element of levity to the meal,” said Instacart’s Trends Expert Laurentia Romaniuk.

An element of levity? Whether or not it comes in the shape of a can, that may be the best Thanksgiving side of all.

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