The Pilgrims' first feast

1. The Pilgrims might all have starved if the English-speaking Indian Squanto hadn't taught them how to grow corn. Five corn kernels were buried in a mound of dirt with five herrings. As the herrings rotted, they fertilized the corn and produced a wonderful crop. Unfortunately, the smell of the herring also attracted a wild animal. Children stood guard over the corn fields, ready to throw rocks should this animal appear. What was it?

2. Chief Massasoit and 90 of his braves brought five of these as gifts to the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. For the English- bred Pilgrims, the gifts were a special treat. Back in England, only the richest people ever ate this food. What was it?

3. Gov. William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony sent out four of his men "fowling" for their feast. They returned with ducks, geese, and what we now call guinea fowl with featherless heads and dark, rounded bodies. What were these birds called by the Pilgrims?

4. While they were on the Mayflower, the Pilgrims ate their stores of flour, so they had none with which to make bread or pastry. There was no pie at the first Thanksgiving, but there was this familiar vegetable that often finds its way into pies. What was it?

5. Nearly half of the Pilgrims died that first winter in America. After the following bountiful summer, there remained only four Pilgrim women and two girls to cook the first Thanksgiving feast. They were aided by 15 boys who gathered this small berry, which the women boiled and mashed into a sauce to accompany the meat.

6. Well-mannered Pilgrims had been raised to do this with their bones after eating the meat from them. It would be rude to throw them on the ground or back in the pot. Where did they put them?

Sources: 'Eating the Plates,' by Lucille Recht Penner; 'Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,' by Charles Panati; 'Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647,'

by William Bradford.


(1) wolves; (2) venison; the Indians brought five deer; (3) turkeys;

(4) boiled pumpkin; (5) cranberries; (6) in neat piles on the table.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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