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  • Olivia Ostrover

Rockin' Around the Christmas Table: What Do Americans Actually Eat for The Holidays?

Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" is a beloved holiday season classic. Originally a children's book, Seuss' work has since been adapted into a TV program, a live-action movie, an animated movie, and even a musical. One of the most iconic scenes from the book depicts the Whos enjoying a Christmas feast. Whos of all ages, shapes, and sizes sit around a whimsically-shaped table enjoying "Who-Pudding" and "Who Roast Beast."

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas," pg. 5

When Seuss published this short story in 1957, he based the fictionalized foods mentioned above on traditional Christmas foods, pudding, and roast beef. This got me thinking– in 2021, what do Americans actually eat for Christmas? It certainly cannot still be pudding and roast beef. Personally, I associate Christmas with honey-baked hams, egg nog, and Yule-tide logs, but is there any accuracy to this hunch beyond my own taste buds? To satiate my curiosity, I decided to research what Americans will actually be putting on the dinner table this Christmas season.

The Main Meal

A 2019 survey by YouGov asked Americans what foods they plan to eat at Christmas Dinner. The results revealed how Americans overwhelmingly treat Christmas Dinner like another beloved holiday: Thanksgiving. Turkey was the most commonly listed meat with sides like sweet potato casserole, green beans, carrots, and gravy. The next most popular meats were prime rib and roast beef (Guess there was some truth to the Grinch.) Carbs, however, were the true stars of the feast. Of American's Top 5 preferred foods at Christmas Dinner, 4 were carbohydrates– these included roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, and stuffing. Keto and Paleo diets be dammed!

Gordon Ramsey Even Has A Famous Christmas Turkey Recipe


Next, I researched my favorite part of the meal, and the result came as a bit of a surprise. Zippia Recruiters analyzed trending recipes on Google in 2019 to determine the most popular Christmas desserts in each state, and overwhelmingly, most preferred Cheesecake (!?!). At least, there was some flavor variation with Oreo Cheesecake in Hawaii and Gingerbread Cheesecake in Pennsylvania. Other popular Christmas desserts included gingerbread-flavored cookies and cakes, puddings (once again, the Grinch rings true!), and peppermint cookies. Several states did prefer very traditional Christmas desserts, such as Fruitcake in. the Carolinas, a Christmas Trifle in Massachusetts, and a Yuletide log in Montana. Other States had absolutely no Christmas cheer and craved convenient-store candy, such as Jolly Ranchers (Utah) and Skittles (Washington).

The full results from the Zippia Survey

The Drinks:

Let's admit it; the holidays can be stressful. With constant family time, the pressure to give that perfect gift, and a new covid variant circling, it might be wise to have a drink in hand! So this article could not be complete without analyzing– what's in our cups? According to a 2020 survey by, the most popular boozy drinks during the Holiday include egg nog, mulled wine, hot buttered rum, and hot toddies (notice a theme of sweet and dark liquor). For non-drinkers, another survey revealed hot chocolate, apple cider, and peppermint-infused coffee (hey there, Starbucks) as the predominant beverages of choice.

An easy, hot-buttered rum recipe....for legal reasons, those of you 21+ ;)

So there you have it, folks-- the most popular foods, sweets, and beverages for a Christmas Dinner in America. Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or have a unique Christmas tradition of your own.

Merry Christmas to All, And To All A Good Night!

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