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Unless you don’t like your family, Thanksgiving is an enjoyable holiday. The premise is simple: be grateful for all that you have, no matter what. It’s a sweet thesis. Unlike Christmas, which is most people’s favorite holiday, Thanksgiving doesn’t focus on the exchange of presents or anything like that. Nope. It’s all about the food -- the sides, especially.
Let’s face it: your Thanksgiving meal is nothing without dope sides. Turkey is overrated, and it’s necessary to have all the proper complements. Below is a ranking of all the potential sides you’re going to put out for your family, starting with the worst and working our way up. (If I forgot something, like mac and cheese, there’s probably a valid reason for it, something along the lines of it not being an essential side).
Trash. Absolute trash. Next.
Squash is a fascinating fruit (and yes, it’s a fruit). It seems like there are 37 different variations, and you can prepare it in a multitude of ways: baked, boiled, steamed, pureed, just to name a couple. However, the options that you can pick over this one are countless, and I can’t remember ever having squash at Thanksgiving. My family, of course, doesn’t speak on behalf of everyone else. But why go with something that may not be a hit with your guests?
Imagine squash but much worse-tasting. If you’re going to have a root vegetable, this is almost certainly not your first choice. You can’t tell me that carrots and potatoes are going to be second and third to turnips. I just won’t believe it. It’d be like picking Chris Bosh over LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Cranberry Sauce (overrated):
I’m ready to ruffle a lot of feathers. First, let’s clear the air: canned cranberry sauce is better than the homemade version, but both are the most overrated Thanksgiving food. They’re just so cliche. And, frankly, I don’t see how they live up to the expectations set. Its sweetness is overpowering, and other options get drowned out because of it.
Unlike the sauce above it, green beans fall toward the end because you can have Thanksgiving without them. On the bright side, there are ways to spice them up, like adding onions and almonds. Any food with versatility -- that tastes good by itself -- always get extra points.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows (underrated?):
Is this a thing? My girlfriend said it was, but I don’t think marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes have ever crossed my plate. However, I’m upset it hasn’t. It looks divine in the pictures I saw, and it gets Lonzo Ball-level hype off of that alone.
Drawing the line at mashed potatoes is ideal because there’s nothing wrong with them, but there’s also nothing God-like. They're reliable, consistent and can be dressed up or down as you please. Throw some green onions, cheese and gravy on there, and you have at least one side that you can enjoy while your Uncle Joe interrogates your sister about her boyfriend, school and how she’s going to get her life together.
You either like it, or you don’t. I’m with the latter. However, I respect its importance to the feast. And it does a phenomenal job of making turkey enjoyable. It knows its purpose, and that’s the most crucial part of constructing any team.
Creamed Corn (underrated):
Corn on the cob is not fun. It gets stuck in your teeth and is just an overall hard time. Corn in creamed form is much better because it’s cleaner and enjoyable -- but you must get it from a can. If you’re preparing the Thanksgiving meal, you don’t want to take the risk of having it come out too soupy, because that’s also not fun, and we all know one of the kids is going to spill it all over themselves.
Carrots are the second-best root vegetable. You can eat them raw or soft, and that’s before thinking about the litany of toppings to dress them in. I prefer them soft and sliced, but, oh my, honey glazed might be the absolute, most perfect way to go. It’s a subtle sweetness (unlike those damn cranberries), and it’s always best to fly under the radar.
Biscuits / Rolls:
It’s a copout. I know. But who doesn’t like light and fluffy buttered roll? the FEDS.
If carrots are the ideal vegetable, apples are the carrots of the fruit world. They’re incredible by themselves but get about 1,200 times better when you add stuff to them. The deciding factor to put them at three, however, is that they double as a dessert. You can eat apples all day on Thanksgiving. How amazing is that? And apple pie is the best way to finish the evening -- don’t you dare at me with your pumpkin or pecan pie nonsense.
One time, I had friends ask me if I ever had candied yams. I was super offended. Who’s never had candied yams or sweet potatoes? That should be punishable by jail time. Sweet potatoes are incredible because you don’t need to be a wiz to make them, and adding sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt is all that you need to make them the arguably the best Thanksgiving side.
There is no debate here. None. Zero. Zilch. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry, I’m not going to make jokes here because sausage stuffing is an Italian dish. I will, however, lend some advice -- find a friend or a significant other who’s Italian and taste their grandmother’s sausage stuffing. It'll blow you away, I promise.