The holidays are approaching and that means so many cliches are upon us. However, few things say Thanksgiving or Christmas more than sitting in holiday traffic on an empty stomach headed to a delicious dinner, or having to massage feeling back into your cheeks after your aunt pinches them just a little bit too hard.
I would argue that the best holiday game, though, is essentially playing Frogger at the dinner table, trying to gracefully avoid these 10 holiday foods that inevitably end up right in front of us each year.
10. Undercooked Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce, when cooked to completion, is a joy to behold. Warm, slightly jellied cranberries melting slowly into your mouth as a palate cleanser after the salt overload from the main dishes of turkey and potatoes.
However, undercooked cranberry sauce is its dangerous cousin in disguise. First of all, you can never truly tell if its going to be that terrible sour mess until you put it in your mouth. By that time, it’s already on your plate and God forbid you insult whoever brought it. Let’s just hope you have a heaping tall glass of wine ready to wash down that throat-burning sour taste.
9. Stale Gingerbread Houses
This doesn’t go so much for your own Thanksgiving dinners, but other people’s holiday parties where there’s joyous cheering as the gingerbread house is broken apart and passed around for all to enjoy. This is normally accompanied by some terrible toast that praises the family on their togetherness, and wish to consume part of that happiness.
Yeah, no thanks. First of all, what is this, Holy Communion? Secondly, I have absolutely no idea what went into the making of this gingerbread house. Aside from the fact that it was probably crafted three weeks ago, I’m sure your child didn’t wash their hands before applying the icing to the sides of the house, or tried to sneak a lick or two of the gumdrop sugar off the gumdrop roof tiles.
Please, everyone, stop forcing your innocent guests to consume this.
8. Hot Dr. Pepper
Alright, Texans, before you throw me to an execution squad, let’s be very mindful of the adjective Hot before Dr. Pepper. The classic Waco-born soda is incredible. I mean, 23 flavors? How is that even possible without some form of witchcraft?
But, Dr. Pepper steaming hot in a saucepan, poured over lemons, now let me stop you right there. If you’ve never had an excited aunt or uncle try and shove this down your throat, consider yourself extremely lucky. It’s pure syrup misery and because it’s a drink, there’s nothing to wash it down with.
7. Too-Creamed Spinach
If you have never tasted the disaster that is spinach pureed to smithereens in a cream sauce, you should feel really lucky that you were blessed with the family you have. Full spinach leaves tossed with a delicious milk and butter sauce? Absolutely, pass that bowl to me on Thanksgiving.
Spinach that’s been run through a blender into oblivion and thrown back into a cream sauce that uses mystery ingredients? No thanks, you can keep your green goo to yourself.
6. Canned Ham
Thanksgiving is a fantastic time where you’re surrounded by your extended family wearing secret stretchy pants, ready to gorge. Well, it’s all fun and games until you hear your third cousin, twice removed, crack open the metal tin of a canned ham.
This will be followed by a chorus of, “Hey, it’s really not that bad! If you didn’t know it was canned, you’d love it!” No, Earl, the canned ham you brought tastes like an entire container of Morton salt was dumped into a vienna sausage can, and it magically transformed into a ham overnight. A ham you had the audacity to bring to this Thanksgiving.
5. Store-Bought Pumpkin Pie
People who bring store-bought pumpkin pies to Thanksgiving are the worst kind of dessert offenders. Do you know how easy it is to make a pumpkin pie? With the Internet losing its shit over pumpkin, I found at least three 5-ingredient or less pumpkin pie recipes in the two seconds it took to type it in the search bar.
And you, you who offered – nay demanded to bring the pumpkin pie, you went to Walmart and bought one. Not even H-E-B, or Costco, or Kroger’s. Walmart.
4. The Mysterious Green Gelatin Mold
Not to be confused with too-creamed spinach, this terrible green gelatin item packs a triple punch, simply because you can never tell if it’s an appetizer, main course, or dessert. What are those tiny things floating in it? They appear red in color. Are they strawberries, or sliced L’il Smokies sausages? Most importantly, why is this a guessing game?
My cousins and I would draw straws very precisely to avoid being the one forced to test it out first. Honestly, going second or third wasn’t that gratifying either.
3. Tuna Casserole
There’s no way you could have thought bringing tuna casserole to Thanksgiving was a delicious idea. I get it, Thanksgiving is the time to be decadent and really embrace our inner glutton, but if your idea of a good time involves warm tuna, melted cheese, and Saltines instead of this delicious turkey in front of us, you must be possessed by some anti-holiday gremlin.
This happened one year in my family, and we have never been able to forget the terrible smell of warm tuna wafting through the air, covering up the much more enjoyable scent of apple pie baking in the oven. Tuna casserole has a place in dinner rotation, and that’s Tuesday night when the week is already far too long to care about anything.
Well, you had to know fruitcake would be on this list. Let me tell you a story. One year, while rambunctiously waiting for dinner to be ready, my cousins and I got in a food fight of sorts. My oldest cousin threw a nondescript fruitcake loaf at me, and I hit the ground, unconscious for a few minutes.
Any dessert item that injures with the impact of a brick has no place in our stomachs, ever. Not to mention the fact that all fruitcake naturally looks like its molded, so I guarantee someone has ingested an unfresh option and remained none the wiser.
1. Tofurkey, with No Real Meat Available
I’m sorry, but is this a game to you? It’s the holidays. Inherently, there will be meat on the table to consume until one cannot consume anymore.
Vegetarians and vegans of the world, I respect y’all. I couldn’t exercise willpower in the form that your group does, but please don’t leave me and my meat-eating posse out in the cold on Thanksgiving. I’ll always have a vegetarian main dish at my gatherings, but only if you promise to stop tricking me into consuming Tofurkey and gloating about it ten minutes after my first bite without complaint.