Thanksgiving is upon us, so with that, I’ve decided to create a very scientific breakdown of the Big Ten schools based on what Thanksgiving food best represents them. Eat your hearts out, Land-Grant Holy Land.
Iowa: Dinner rolls
Iowa is just white bread – it’s there to hold you over until the rest of the food is done, but it serves no other purpose. It’s fine, but mostly it just takes up space on the table/schedule that could be occupied by something better.
Maryland: Brussels sprouts
Even when they are really prepared well, they are going to be forgettable compared to the rest of your plate. Yes, I know how last weekend’s game went. Is anyone going to be talking about that after next Saturday? On Thanksgiving, they’re simply not worth giving up prime plate real estate for.
Minnesota: Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Something about Minnesota just screams “down home Midwestern Thanksgiving at grandma’s,” the same way that homemade pumpkin pie does. It can be a little rough around the edges and it doesn’t always look pretty, but it feels traditional.
Nebraska: Creamed corn
Cornhuskers? With two wins? A repulsive dish? It absolutely would not be missed if it burned on the stove. This one speaks for itself.
Northwestern: Cranberry Sauce (Real)
If there is such a thing as intellectual food, real cranberry sauce would be it. Most people who want cranberries want it out of a can, and yet, the people who like real cranberry sauce will be on their high horse about its superiority. Let’s face it – Northwestern students are the intellectuals of the Big Ten. This is their spot on the Thanksgiving menu. And much like Pat Fitzgerald, it’s likable enough to stay on the menu year after year because it’s an old family recipe that your one crazy aunt still loves making.
Illinois: Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potato casserole is a classic, but much like Illinois is often all over the board, so too is sweet potato casserole. Some people are out here putting whole yams on a plate. Some are topping them off with marshmallows like a little party in your mouth. Illinois is the same way. You know they’ll be there, but you don’t really know what you’re gonna get. Will they be bland and boring, merely an obligatory box to check in your season? Or will they bring a little fun marshmallow action? You never know until you get there!
Indiana: Cranberry Sauce (Canned)
It’s not Thanksgiving dinner without canned cranberry sauce. You know the kind – if it doesn’t jiggle whilst holding the shape of the can, ridges and all, I do not want it. Jiggly cranberry sauce is food that dances – it’s the life of the party. There’s not much more to it than that. Indiana might not always have much going for it by way of football, but they certainly know how to throw a party, and it wouldn’t be the Big Ten without them.
Ohio State: Bourbon Apple Cider
Cocktails can be beautiful or they can look like something purchased at Charlie Bear, Land of Dance in the year of our Lord 2011. But it’s not about how they look, it’s about how they taste. Sure, bourbon burns going down, but ultimately, does anything make you warmer and fuzzier on the inside than a spiked apple cider?
Didn’t think so. The Buckeyes have some ugly wins this season – but a win is a win, and ultimately, victory tastes sweet and warms your heart, even if it is served in one of those clear plastic cups.
Penn State: Tofurky
Turkey thinks it’s the main dish. Tofurky thinks it’s the main dish and is snooty about it. But we all know tofurky is not the real deal. It leaves a weird taste in your mouth. For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like, and good for them I guess. But let’s stop pretending tofurky is as good as real turkey. It’s not, and real turkey isn’t even that good to begin with.
Purdue: Mashed potatoes
They’re a staple, but man, can they ruin your appetite. There’s nothing better than a good batch of mashed potatoes with some gravy. But my God, a bad mashed potato is borderline inedible. Without the right butter and seasoning ratio, they’re just bland and tasteless with a gluey texture. Purdue, similarly, is either legitimately good and worth paying attention to, or they’re so bad they’ll make you cry tears of boredom. Sometimes, all the gravy in the world can’t save the day, much like some games against Purdue are boring no matter how many touchdowns the Buckeyes score.
What is stuffing really? It is merely stale bread stuffed up a turkey’s butt.
Wisconsin: Green Bean Casserole
One of the more polarizing dishes on the table, people either love green bean casserole or HATE green bean casserole. People’s feelings about Wisconsin also seem to fall on one of two ends of the spectrum – there is rarely any middle ground with them.
My high school P.E. teacher used to say, “You’ll never fly like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys.” Michigan is the turkey of the Big Ten. Turkey is the attention seeker of Thanksgiving. It thinks it’s the main dish, but really everyone is here for the sides. It doesn’t really shine until it’s time for leftovers, and you can put it on a sandwich where the taste is masked by all the other foods in the sandwich.
Also, much like the Thanksgiving turkey is going to get stuffed on Thursday, Michigan is going to get stuffed on Saturday.