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'Fared Sumptuously On The Way' - A Thanksgiving Meal That Made News

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Today, as you roast your turkey, grill your vegetables or consider where you’ll order takeout consider this: way back in the day a great Thanksgiving meal could make the newspaper. And we’re not talking about reviews. Here's the story of just such a feast.

This particular Thanksgiving meal was spotted by Nicholas Graham, a librarian at UNC Chapel Hill. "Well, we do a lot of work digitizing old newspapers," Graham explains. 

After the documents are scanned, the librarians do a bit of quality control to make sure the image is legible. "And I was just glancing through a copy of the Charlotte News from 1911 and I found this fantastic Thanksgiving menu."

The headline, 'Fared Sumptuously On The Way.' But before we get to the meal, let’s talk about the guests, four prominent Charlotte businessmen who built roads for a living says Graham. "They were going down to Savannah, Georgia to visit the Indian Refining company."

Purveyors of liquid asphalt. Which these Charlotteans would use, "to pave the roads, a lot of them for the first time in Mecklenburg County."

Credit Courtesy of North Carolina Miscellany
The headline from a story in the December 3rd, 1911 issue of the Charlotte News

Credit Courtesy of North Carolina Miscellany
The published menu

So how best to start a feast for a group of road pavers? Graham says they started with "the liquid asphalt cocktail." Here’s hoping it was a themed drink.

The first course included a what Graham says was highfalutin vegetable of the time. "Celery. Celery was on a lot of fancy menus in the early 20th century."

As for course number two? Savannah Bay oysters. Olives. Strained gumbo. And a Chamberlin highball, the second cocktail of many cocktails that night. Some of the dishes are familiar, young Georgia turkey with chestnuts and cranberry sauce.

Some dishes, like young opossum, are not so popular these days. And the desserts, including English plum pudding with brandy sauce, sound straight out of Dickens.

The tale of this great feast ends with two lines of poetry:

What is ours of the fullest of life’s great store Is more than enough to be thankful for.

Tom Bullock decided to trade the khaki clad masses and traffic of Washington DC for Charlotte in 2014. Before joining WFAE, Tom spent 15 years working for NPR. Over that time he served as everything from an intern to senior producer of NPR’s Election Unit. Tom also spent five years as the senior producer of NPR’s Foreign Desk where he produced and reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon among others. Tom is looking forward to finally convincing his young daughter, Charlotte, that her new hometown was not, in fact, named after her.