This morning at breakfast my 15-year-old said, "I don’t think I'm going to eat all day tomorrow until dinner. It's like the greatest meal of the year, ya know?"
I do know. I love Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, pumpkin pie and … Frog Eye Salad? If I were having Thanksgiving dinner in several states out West, there's a good chance Frog Eye Salad would be on the menu, according to The Thanksgiving Recipes Googled In Every State.
The New York Times teamed up with Google to analyze Thanksgiving recipe searches by state. They didn't look for the dish Googled most often — that would be turkey in every state. What they looked for was the most distinctive recipe searched for at Thanksgiving, and the results show just how diverse our culinary traditions are in the United States, sort of.
When I picked out the dishes that I was unfamiliar with, I had no idea the majority of them would have one ingredient in common. But five of the six of them are all heavily Cool Whip-based and several of them use canned mandarin oranges and pineapple. I now have a picture in my mind of recipe developers in the 1960s getting together to figure out how to create the easiest desserts that could be put together by opening containers and cans, without having to actually cook anything. I don’t know if that's accurate, but that's how I account for so many of these dishes uses non-dairy whipped topping and canned fruit.
- Frog Eye Salad (Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming or Colorado). This salad is a combination of pasta, pineapple, mandarin oranges, eggs, Cool Whip and marshmallows. It uses small, round acini di pepe pasta that looks like frog eyes.
- Pig Pickin' Cake (North Carolina). This cake has mandarin oranges mixed with pineapple and Cool Whip.
- Snicker Salad (Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa). Chopped Snickers Bars and apples are in this salad that uses Cool Whip as a dressing.
- 4 Layer Delight (Arkansas). There are four layers in this dessert and two of them contain Cool Whip. Are we sensing a theme here? This treat has a cake layer, a Cool Whip/cream cheese layer, a chocolate pudding layer and finally a straight Cool Whip layer.
- Pretzel Salad (Delaware). I'm familiar with this salad, and the salt/sweet combo makes it a bit addictive. Crushed pretzels make a crust for a pie-like filling of cream cheese, sugar and Cool Whip. It’s topped with a fruity topping made from Jell-O.
- Funeral Potatoes (Utah). Finally, one without Cool Whip. Funeral potatoes are similar to other potato dishes around the country — a shredded potato, sour cream and cheese-based casserole. It’s the name that’s distinctive to Utah.
Whatever is on your table on Thanksgiving, whether it’s North Dakota’s Cookie Salad (also with Cool Whip, mandarin oranges and pineapple) or something more associated with the season like Virginia’s corn pudding, I hope you have a wonderful feast, and that it’s "like the greatest meal of the year" for you and your loved ones.