Fun anecdote: last night, I drove an hour to the nearest Target, because I am a Basic white woman and required some Christmas decorations, and yet, lacked the stomach for facing Target on a Black Friday weekend. I felt noticeably worse during the sojourn, and have had to face an unfortunate truth...
... I’m sick. Over Thanksgiving Break. It’s a horrible sore throat, and everything hurts, and OF COURSE it would happen when I’m on break. We didn’t even have plans on Thanksgiving proper, but I had so much grading and house stuff I was going to get done! (Who paints a stairwell on Thanksgiving? Me.)
Anyway, this Potluck Power Poll is brought to you by Ricola, Beezer so I don’t drive down and cough on his turkey as threatened, and me being out of craps to give—so pretty much par for the holiday course, no?
Michigan Wolverines (#1) - Shitty-Ass Wine
(First Place Votes: 15 High: 1 Low: 2)
Really, the wine should be a feature of the party, a highlight even. And everyone SHOULD love it, right? It’s alcohol. You’re stuck with your family for hours on end, and this is your lifeline. What’s not to love, right? Well, what happened is that Uncle Rick volunteered to “cover drinks” and he knows jack about wine, and now you’re enjoying Sutter Home with your uninformed political conversations and tryptophan. Michigan remains the Big Ten’s best hope for a playoff team, and they’ve gotten to that place through deceptive simplicity (good defense/containing alcohol)—and yet, everyone is still cranky about it. Mostly, this is because most Michigan fans go down about as pleasantly as a room-temperature Sutter Home white.
Ohio State Buckeyes (#2) - Pumpkin Pie
(FPV: 1 H: 1 L: 3)
Pumpkin pie sucks, my dudes. It just does. The texture is one-note and displeasing, and no amount of whipped cream can cover up its inherent deficiencies. And yet, it appears year after year, considered a “classic” and readily eaten up by many because... tradition? We’re just used to it? I dunno. But that’s OSU this year. A team with many flaws that has struggled this season to put away the likes of Nebraska and Maryland, and yet, because it did manage to do that, has remained much more highly ranked than deserved because... it’s Ohio State.
Northwestern (#3) - Pomegranate, Pear, and Pistachio Salad with Pomegranate Dressing and Couscous-flavored Croutons and a Goat Cheese Reduction with Artisanal Trader Joe’s Crumbles
(H: 2 L: 5)
Well, well what have we here? A mumbo jumbo of pretentious nonsense? Yes indeed! Your fancy aunt from the city was supposed to just bring a “salad” wherein your solid Midwestern crew assumed it would be some green leaves in a bowl no one would even bother with. But she turned up with this instead. And although you were skeptical (especially about those croutons), you have to admit, this all came together better than you imagined. Much like the PPPSw/PDCFCGCRTJC, Northwestern has put together a football season that has come together much better than anyone expected after they lost to Akron (many people forget.)
Penn State (#4) - Stuffing
(H: 3 L: 6)
You were the last team assigned a food in this one-tenth-assed attempt at a Thanksgiving Power Poll, and you got a pretty good one. Stuffing is delicious, even if it’s “just” from a box, and sometimes it’s even the star of the meal. Generally, though, you’re a supporting role player near the top of the rankings. I’m out of things to say, so here are a couple analogies involving Penn State and stuffing from the Fanshot commentariat:
Stuffing, like Penn State, is theoretically and can be realistically great; the problem is that you let people like Franklin stuff it into the bird and now it’s contaminated and everybody’s got food poisoning. — Mochila
Bland — HoustonBoiler
[Thing wholly inappropriate for publication] —Viceroy Fizzlebottom
might be the best part of the meal, might be the worst, but it’s always in the conversation. One of the iconic pieces of any Thanksgiving - ChrisHarrell’s_stache05
Look, we said we said we were phoning this in, and we are. And if we didn’t say we were, we were. The end.
Iowa (#5) - Cranberry Sauce
(H: 3 L: 8)
Inexplicably, year after year, you hang around, tricking some people into liking you, and bewildering even more people who don’t understand how or why anyone could love you. Every once in a while, say, 2015, you’re homemade and actually “good,” doing just enough to justify your existence for several more years of mediocre-at-best red glop that still has the lines from the can embedded in its weird-ass cylinder. As with turkey, you’re there every year, people expect you to be there, and mostly everyone is meh-to-dislike about your existence.
wisconsin (#6) - Turkey
(H: 3 L: 9, Preseason #3 with 2 FPV)
Turkey Parrot-THE staple of (Alvarez Family) Thanksgiving, but also predictable, boring, and expected. Every year we know what we’re getting from turkey parrot: sorta bland meat that serves as an excuse to eat thirty other things that are better. Despite complaints, despite an acknowledgement that The Must Be A Better Way, turkey parrot is always there, making its way onto your plate for the main meal, and reliably anchoring several of the following meals. Everyone knows the turkey parrot isn’t going to be the star of the meal, taste-bud wise, but for the last seventeen years, and twenty-four of the past twenty-six, turkey parrot has been there, getting national attention and making the haters mad.
Michigan State (#7) - Mashed Potatoes
(H: 5 L: 9)
This is better than MSU deserves, and we all know it. To paraphrase the rare wise OTE commenter, mashed potatoes are really just an excuse to have gravy. The potatoes themselves aren’t all that special, usually bland, predictable, and consistent. You can count on the potatoes to run an unimaginative offense and serve as an effective defense against gravy and other foods intermingling. Plus, every once in a while, you add some really terrific gravy in the form of an offensive player who can overcome your inherent boringness and make a run to the Thanksgiving Foods Championship. The tricky thing about you, though, is that while you can and do beat pumpkin pie, turkey, stuffing year after year, and other seemingly superior foods, you’re also capable of letting things like jello salad, regular salad, and even cranberry sauce beat you at the food competition.
Nebraska (#8) - Jello with Marshmallows “Salad”/Colddish
(H: 6 L: 12)
It’s a little bit summery, but if we’re being honest, you can’t have a proper Midwestern feast without this standard: red Jello (as if red is a flavor, which it totally is), bananas or other assorted fruit, topped with mini marshmallow goodness. This is a the pinnacle of great for a certain type of fan, one which hasn’t much appreciation for sophistication and enjoys the comforts of nostalgia. You are perfectly happy to scoop up a little gelatinized happiness and remember the happy days of yore. It turns out, this dish isn’t very filling, and the way it makes everything else on the plate taste like red is a little annoying, but hey, you love it. The Huskers this year were also a little disappointing and couldn’t even find their way to a separate bowl, and yet, there was enough to like here for most Husker fans this season.
Maryland (#9) - Deviled Eggs
(H: 7 L: 11)
I (beez) never ate a single deviled egg until I was twenty-four, and I think my reasons were entirely defensible. They smell like garbage and butthole, two things which, while interesting flavors on their own (BRT note: weird flex, but ok), surely cannot combine to be delicious. Turns out, deviled eggs are really, really delicious and surprisingly easy to make. The key is to add a little bit of pickle juice to the filling (in addition to the tiny relish chunks) to really pickle-up the flavor and make the filling creamy. So why make Maryland deviled eggs? Because they came to my attention late in life as a B1G add-on, and Rutgers sure as hell doesn’t deserve to be analogized to something actually good about Thanksgiving.
Purdue (#10) - Some non-pumpkin, superior kind of pie
(H: 4 (?!?!) L: 11)
This is the most on-the-nose analogy of the bunch. You absolutely SMOKED pumpkin pie this year. Frankly, it was embarrassing how badly pumpkin pie got worked over by your delicious French Silk Pie-ness. Hilariously, though, you also got to be a decidedly bad non-pumpkin pie, losing to some foods that didn’t even make it on the table! (Hey, Eastern Michigan!) I’m thinking...coconut cream pie, because coconut a mostly-bad food if it’s not liquefied and mixed with oodles of booze. Point is, you’re never going to be as iconic as pumpkin pie, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be occasionally better than pumpkin pie. Also your head pie is going to leave after this season, so “better than pumpkin pie” gives you some solace about your lot in life.
Indiana (#11) - Sweet Potato Something, Probably Casserole
(H: 10 L: 12)
Sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving are a Southern thing and I will not hear any evidence to the contrary. Whether you put pecans (I think?) in it, top it with something crispy and sweet, or do a third thing I can’t identify but which lets me make this a three-item list, hot sweet potato casserole-ish foods are fabulous. I think we’d all agree Indiana is the most Southern of the B1G states, at least when you get below Indianapolis, so it’s fitting for Indiana to get the southernmost food on the list. Also, ummmm, Tom Crean was uh...something something football reason.
Minnesota (#12) - Green Bean Crap
(H: 10 L: 12)
You’re bad. You just are. For fourteen straight years, you’ve been hammed by turkey on the “which food is better rankings,” despite people not even liking turkey that much. You’ve been around forever, and you were probably really popular and well-thought-of back in the 50’s when you were invented, but let’s face facts—The modern American doesn’t want to eat a vegetable swimming in the worst possible flavor of soup. Plus, I found this factoid on the internet, which as any good Minnesotan or Prairie Home Companion will tell you, is the most Minnesota thing ever:
Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom variety had been around since 1934. It was widely used as casserole filler in the Midwest, popping up in enough Minnesotan hotdish recipes that it was sometimes referred to as “Lutheran binder.” But no one thought to add frozen green beans to the mix until Reilly came along. The fried onions on top were an easy way to add texture and brighten the color of a grey-green dish, and to add a certain festive touch to the proceedings.
To further strain this analogy and perfect the sick burnslam, PJ Fleck is the fried onions; an “easy” way to take something garbage, hype it up, and make it seem not garbage. We’re not fooled, Minnesota.
Also, in the spirit of it being Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving!
Illinois (#13) - Awkward Conversations
(Last Place Votes: 3 (uh oh, Illini) H: 13 L: 14)
Hands down the worst part of Thanksgiving for many people is the knowledge they’ll have to interact with their actual family members. All kinds of uncomfortable subjects and viewpoints are sure to come up which make you ponder how if genetics are a thing you still ended up being smart enough not to fall for every freedomeagle.net meme on Facebook but your blood relatives still do. Or, if you could make it look like an accident if you drowned Uncle Roger in the gravy so he would stop making jokes about how you’re STILL single (you cannot, so don’t do it, and also it will ruin the gravy.) Illinois, like awkward and unpleasant conversations with relatives in a confined space, there is nothing to like about you right now. Fans of you just have to grit their teeth, have an extra glass of wine, and get through it all the best they can.
Rutgers (#14) - Pizza at the Kids’ Table
(LPV: 13 H: 13 L: 14)
Now, some of you will be mad about this, because pizza is delicious and amazing and Rutgers is not. I admit that pizza is these things, but the important point here is context. Pizza’s just not Thanksgiving, much in the way that Rutgers is just not a Big Ten team, or even really a football team at all. The second thing to bear in mind here is that if you’re eating pizza on Thanksgiving, it’s probably because you’re sitting at the kids’ table, which, unless you are actually eight, is a mark of great shame. And Rutgers, if the Big Ten had a kids’ table, you’d be headlining that sucker.
We know you’ve got hot taeks! What’s the best Thanksgiving food?
This poll is closed
Something else I’ll vociferously defend in the comments and make fun of you for not liking