April 12, 2024

The Tiers of Thanksgiving Food

Every year people post hot takes on the internet regarding the foods of the Thanksgiving meal. To honor this beautiful tradition while stoking the fire, the tiers of Thanksgiving foods as thrown into a TGS group chat.

Tier Three

Tier three dishes manage to find their way to the dinner table on Thanksgiving much the chagrin of many everywhere. It’s not that these foods are terrible, it’s that they’re not the crowd favorites when sitting next to the tier one foods. Are you going to choose to drive a Ford Focus when the option of a Porsche 911 exists?


Right off the bat, cranberries show up dressed in a variety of ways to the Thanksgiving spread. Usually they arrive in a smaller dish that gets looked over in favor of higher tiered foods, however, they will always receive an invite even if few people enjoy them.

Glazed Carrots

The enthusiasm towards this dish when shared by a TGS creative immediately cemented its place in tier three. The meal is neither elevated nor harmed by the addition of glazed carrots. They’re tasty and look nice, but lack the necessary oomph to rally excitement behind them.


On a normal day squash sides are a tier three food because of how easy they are to botch. Not everyone is equipped to make a nice squash dish, as squash is a very finicky vegetable making the end result extremely hit or miss.

Side Salad

Complete author to reader transparency, side salad has no business being at a Thanksgiving meal because it’s just going to get wilty from the lack of attention. You know your attention is not on a side salad that you can have any other day of the year. You showed up to this meal ready to leave with a food baby. Side salads are delightful, but tragically not anywhere close to stardom at a Thanksgiving meal.

Tier Two

Tier two foods pretty much fall into the side dish and dessert category. We’re all pretty happy to see them on the table and will help ourselves to a generous portion, but not more generous than the tier one gold standard foods we know we’ll find at Thanksgiving.

Green Bean Casserole

No lukewarm takes here. People either love it or acknowledge the truth that it is traaash (this is the opinion of the author and other TGS creatives in agreement). In all honest, green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving meal staple and people have found ways to zhuzh it up.

Mac N Cheese

Again, more hot takes that mac n cheese isn’t a Thanksgiving dish. Different strokes for different folks on whether or not it has a place at the dinner table, though you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who turns down a good baked mac n cheese if presented. Peep the history of mac n cheese as a Thanksgiving addition here.


The Tailgate Society is not affiliated with any schools in the state of Iowa, however many creatives hail from The Corn State, so of course corn makes the cut for a Thanksgiving meal.


Before you say “pie is so broad”, yes because we’re not ranking pies here, we’re ranking the appearance of pie at the Thanksgiving meal. In general, people look forward to pie at Thanksgiving even if they get too full during the main event to engage. Fortunately, pie makes a great breakfast the day after Thanksgiving.

Sweet Potatoes

Let’s be honest with ourselves, sweet potato casserole with candied pecans and toasted marshmallows is a dessert. We include it in the Thanksgiving meal to get a taste of dessert while filling up on the savory food. It’s without a double a staple of the spread, but not quite tier one.


On a normal day, rolls with a meal somewhat elevates the meal because now you’ve added a carb that really had no business showing up. On Thanksgiving, rolls really have no business showing up considering stuffing and mashed potatoes are part of the meal. However, rolls serve the purpose as a pregame food because typically you can sneak one when you’re waiting for everything to be cooked and that stolen roll might be the difference between throwing things at your relatives out of being hangry and having a pleasant discourse about the state of affairs. For playing a clutch role, rolls prove they have a purpose.

Tier One

Tier one foods, the real reasons we all showed up to this meal. Without tier one Thanksgiving foods, what are we even doing here?


Honestly, gravy stumbles into tier one. Not even sure gravy counts as a food, but we’ll give it to the people. Gravy gets the most action of the year November. Love yearly recognition this for gravy.


Enough people said ham was a food they look forward to at the Thanksgiving meal that solidly solidified its spot a tier one food.


Like sweet potatoes and green bean casserole, stuffing is a staple of the Thanksgiving meal. Unlike the aforementioned sides, stuffing wants you to know it is not a side chick at this meal, it’s a main chick. Across the board people’s excitement for stuffing outshine the sweet potatoes and green bean casserole hype. Not bad for a food that only gets one day of the year to show out.


Turkey probably should have been a given, but plenty of people have shared that they just aren’t that excited for it. Even though the excitement for turkey isn’t quite the same as it is for other tier one foods, if some form of turkey/poultry is absent from the spread, someone will have something to say about it, by default it has to be a tier one food.

Mashed Potatoes

No matter what, the people love mashed potatoes. You might come to the Thanksgiving table expecting the turkey to be the star, but in reality, mashed potatoes show up ready to make an appearance. They are the best of the top tier foods.

If you have any questions, comments, complaints, please reflect thoughtfully before attacking any of the placements of foods in their tiers.

From everyone at The Tailgate Society, have a happy, safe and good food filled Thanksgiving!

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Emily Cornell
Emily Cornell 208 Articles
Staff Writer

Emily grew up in the great state of Colorado, then decided the University of Wyoming sounded like a good time. Since graduating, she has tried to figure out how not to become an adult. To fully commit to this, she’s a part-time cheesecake maker and a semi-pro adventurer. Sometimes she shares her unpopular opinions on sports and life, if this interests you, she can be found on Twitter and Instagram like a true millennial @emilproblems.

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