Food

Thanksgiving Question: What’s Your Glark?

Thanksgiving Question: What's Your Glark

Every family has one…

In our family, my mom served Orange Glark, a molded Jell-O side dish that appeared on the Thanksgiving table right alongside the turkey and stuffing. Its presence wasn’t questioned, or even really discussed. In its 20-year tenure as a regular, no one ever uttered, “I love how the brightness of the canned pineapple and mandarin orange chunks suspended inside this Jell-O so perfectly contrast with the richness of the turkey’s gravy” or wondered aloud, “Why is this even called Glark?”

In spite of the dish’s sentimental significance in our family, no one seems to know the answer to that question. All we know is that my mom, who grew up in Very West Western Pennsylvania — almost the Midwest, where Jell-O dishes were once popular — got the recipe from an old friend in the 70s, and never stopped making it. At least until her children and grandchildren started good-naturedly roasting her for it.

And now, in a shockingly unforeseen plot twist, I miss that Glark terribly! It’s what made our family’s feast our very own.

What about you all? What is the one oddball thing about your Thanksgiving table that makes your family’s feast unique?

P.S. 10 handy table manners and what foods don’t you like?

(Photo by Darren Muir/Stocksy.)

  1. At my house our most ridiculous conversations happen while we are all doing dishes. Once we tried to come up with the grossest food we could thing of, and bananaise (banana mayonaise) was the winner. Now you’re telling me bananaise is real????????

  2. Kristi Dansereau says...

    My inlaws serve something called “pink salad” which is an unholy combination of cool whip, condensed milk, and cherry pie filling. Needless to say, it is DELICIOUS, and now has a regular place on my table as well!

    • Jennifer says...

      Yes!! My grandma called it “frozen salad” and everyone got a square served on a leaf of iceberg lettuce on a (fine china!) salad plate at their table setting. I think there was canned crushed pineapple in there too? Delicious!

  3. Chelsey says...

    Any other Italians in the house?? Of course after the huge antipasto during the day, we sit down to A LASAGNE alongside the traditional turkey…

  4. Stephanie says...

    On a little plate placed at every setting, there was always this: A piece of lettuce topped with half a canned pear, dollop mayo + Kraft shredded cheddar. No one ever eats it but it’s always there. WHAT IS THIS??

    • Jackie says...

      Omg! Thank you for this. When I was younger and would visit my grandparents, my grandma would make a little “side salad” of a leaf of iceberg lettuce, topped with a slice of pineapple, a dollop of mayo and cottage cheese! Ha! :)

    • Kristin says...

      Yes… This is hysterical! Are you r
      From TX? Because south TX where my grandparents are from is where I learnes about cottage cheese over canned pineapple AND canned pear w cream cheese and cheddar cheese on top. I’ve always thought it was delicious and now serve my own version w fresh pears, yogurt cheese and a sprinkling of sea salt. I think it actually makes a pretty appetizer! 😆😆

    • Alexan B. says...

      PEAR SALAD! Definitely a southern thing. We don’t eat it for holidays but we do eat it frequently throughout the year. Canned pear, mayo, cheddar cheese shreds. Pear salad was one of my favorites growing up – I didn’t realize it was odd!

  5. Katie says...

    For years my family has made those Sister Schubert frozen dinner rolls for Thanksgiving. One year, my mom couldn’t remember the brand name and called them Englebert Humperdincks. That’s just what we call rolls now.

    • Nancy says...

      Katie, I’m trying not to LOL at work, do ya mind?

    • Alex says...

      okay those rolls are heaven sent!

  6. Emily says...

    BURNT BROWN ‘N SERVE ROLLS! With bottoms as dark, hard, and tasteless as hockey pucks. Since the early 1980s. Every. Year. And every year, I scrape on a generous pat of Irish butter in attempt to soften the char. I am fully convinced my parents do it on purpose at this point, to keep the tradition alive. Or maybe they’ve been at the forefront of the activated charcoal trend all along?

    • Kelly says...

      haha, we have these too! Always accompanied by someone jumping up from the dinner table yelling, “The rolls!” and out they come, as dark and hard as the devil’s soul, and gamely everyone attempts to pick out the small, still fluffy top of the roll, until they cool to room temperature and the entire roll assumes its preordained rock-like texture.

      This just made me think: Maybe they are the same rolls, year after year!

  7. Liz says...

    Oyster dressing. My mom makes it only for my dad every year because his mom used to make it.
    its disgusting. Oysters have no place in thanksgiving dinner. These are the canned kind… not fresh.
    She also makes an amazing cornbread and regular bread dressing that is unique to our family and we all love. The oyster one gets made in the smallest Pyrex she owns. The cornbread gets 3 large Pyrex dishes.

    • Jess. says...

      My mom always made a small smoked oyster dressing for my dad every year! Dads love canned oysters, I guess! xox

    • Lulu says...

      Ha! My dad ALWAYS brings a can of smoked oysters and then forces them on new and unsuspecting family members. Dad’s <3 weird oysters.

  8. Tricia M says...

    As you all probably know we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK but I wish we did because it’s a fabulous idea! Sending all good wishes to the lovely CoJ community therefore for Thanksgiving.

    • Taylor says...

      I have a friend who is temporarily living here in the US for work but says that when she returns to her home country of Argentina she will continue to celebrate Thanksgiving. She explained that it’s such a nice holiday that is celebrating being thankful by getting together with friends and family and just appreciating what you have. I think sometimes we overlook exactly what the holiday is besides football, stressing over the perfect roast turkey and eating too much but since my Argentinian friend made me look at the holiday from an outside view, I realize how lucky we are to have it. A day to be thankful. That’s really the perfect thing to celebrate.

  9. Kelly says...

    I’m deep in the throes of first trimester morning sickness, but I read all 600+ comments with equal parts delight and disgust. It’s honestly the most intrigued I’ve been by food in weeks. Who knows, maybe jello surprise will be the only thing that sounds good on T-day!

    • Brooke says...

      Sending you good vibes. I’m in my third trimester and the first was incredibly hard but the good news is that it goes away and you’ll feel better soon! Take great care of yourself and get pampered when you need it!

  10. Robyn says...

    That’s so funny about the Jell-O salad. I’m 60 and through most of my years there was always some type of jello salad at get togethers. My favorite was strawberry Jell-O salad with a pretzel crust.

    • breanna says...

      oh my gosh yes, this was always so delicious.. or the peach jell-o with canned peaches over a pretzel crust! yum!

    • Mary says...

      Now, that is Good!
      😀

  11. Norah says...

    My mom (and now I) make curried fruit. A can of fruit cocktail with some banana slices, a scoop of curry powder, brown sugar, and butter bubbling hot from the oven. I have no idea where it came from. She and I love it and no one else in the family likes it at all. It’s a bizarre dish that I look forward to every year!

    • Sonia King says...

      OMG Norah, i cannot think of anything worse hahahahahaha

  12. Sonja says...

    You guys are seriously going to make me swear off of EVER frequenting the midwest or south! I live in Seattle where micro greens and locally foraged mushrooms are NORMAL and healthy (truly delicious) food is everywhere! Lol a country as big as ours can be soooo different. ;)

    • Elizabeth R says...

      We have healthy food in the Midwest and the South too. Veggies and the South go hand in hand. The Midwest and the South actually have farms that grow a lot of the vegetables you enjoy. Thanksgiving tends to be a day of indulgence. Maybe if you spread your wings a bit and open your mind, you will see the goodness that can exist in every part of America. Including at the Thanksgiving table. Immigrants made America; and our differences are our strength.

    • Elizabeth R says...

      Also. A lot of these comments do not specifically mention where the people are from.

    • Zel says...

      This comment makes you sound conceited and rude. Your attitude is hurtful.

    • J says...

      Aw, come on, why be a spoil sport? I ate some truly weird stuff growing up in Seattle, too.

  13. Jess says...

    These instructions are complicated, get ready:
    1. Put a brick of cream cheese on a plate.
    2. Pour cocktail sauce on cream cheese.
    3. Dump a pound of tiny shrimp onto brick+sauce.
    4. Eat on wheat thins.

    • Jess. says...

      My name is also Jess and this is my VERY FAVORITE HOLIDAY appetizer. We stir some bleu cheese and dill into the cream cheese (I think it also originally called for another spice which I never had & now always leave out–allspice? I don’t even know now). I could eat the whole thing all by myself. The best.

    • Kristan says...

      We always had this too!

  14. Meredith says...

    My mom makes her mother’s deviled eggs, and they are so incredible – I’ve never had one like it. A little sweet and a little tangy with a lot of paprika. They’re so popular that they show up at every holiday meal: Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas! They’re the most requested item, no matter the season.

  15. Michelle says...

    Apple snow!! A weird layered side dish of applesauce, dream whip and crushed crackers. Mmmmm I might just have to make it for friendsgiving.

  16. Jessica says...

    I cook my family’s Thanksgiving meal – every dish that isn’t dessert – for this VERY REASON and I’m about to go off (excuse me, in advance).
    My parents moved to the west coast and raised us in the food nirvana that was Berkeley of the 70’s-90’s. They can leave those flavorless upstate New York dishes (my maternal grandmother was confused by oregano. Oregano!) and bizarre, marshmallowy Memphis concoctions right where they left them when they fled the east coast in 1968. If I’m cooking, it isn’t on the menu!
    Now, if you want to talk NEW dishes that are worth the effort (or save time), I can share a lot of things:
    – Brining a turkey is always worth it (do the Judy Bird, at the very least).
    – Last minute veg is the enemy, because there are a million other things to do at the last minute, but crisp-tender blanched green beans with dijon, butter and herbs is easy enough for your nephew to do it, so do it.
    – Make a doctored-up batch of chicken stock the night before by simmering whole spices (cinamon sticks, peppercorns, clove, fennel seeds) and whole herb branches (sage, marjoram, savory) in some Swanson’s with your roasted giblets. This herby stock will make your gravy, stuffing, glazed vegetables and day-after turkey noodle soup AMAZING.
    No one is bringing that Cool Whip/Jello/Marshmallow nonsense into my house. Not never no.
    (Madie with the Dungeness crab and Holly with the fresh cranberry meat grinder relish? You guys can come over.)

  17. Joanna B says...

    We have what we call “pink stuff,” which is a cranberry-grape-walnut-Cool Whip concoction that is very pink and very delicious.

    • Melissa says...

      WE ALSO HAVE PINK STUFF!!! We call it that too. Only ours is a strawberry cool whip mix.

    • Sandy says...

      My sweet Grandma always made “pink stuff” as well. I was lucky enough to receive the container she served it after she passed. I think I may have to make it this year for Thanksgiving. #makepinkstuffcoolagain

    • Kiki says...

      we call ours “pink fluff” cool whip / jello / walnuts PLUS marshmallows. LOL

  18. Amber Fitzner says...

    Watergate! Why is it named that? Pistachio pudding, cool whip, walnuts, pineapple, and marshmallows. So midwest

    • Sharon says...

      Yes, we had this. My grandmother was from a rural part of Tennessee and it was a standard. I haven’t heard the name “Watergate”, but that works! We don’t make it anymore, but I’m sure it’s why I’ve always had a thing for pistachio flavored ice cream.

    • Katie Fleegel says...

      Watergate! Is THAT what it’s called? We always had this too but it went by the name “green salad”. Could be confusing for an outsider expecting actual salad greens.

    • jen in pa says...

      yes! my grandmother used to make this at every gathering, and i miss it.

    • Katie says...

      I was scrolling looking for this concoction! We called it green slime. Makes me miss my nana deeply just thinking about it. My other grandmother used to empty a can of pineapple slices of their juice, fill with jello mixture, then set it in the fridge. So when it came out you could slice the mold and have a ring of jello around your pineapple. One can red, one can green for festiveness ;) Ahh western New York food culture!

  19. stacey says...

    Creamed onions. I still love them even though no one else does.
    At Christmas my mom would do plum pudding with hard sauce, a tradition she got from her mother.

  20. Elliesee says...

    We eat eels on Christmas Eve. The live ones are feisty, would try to escape and had to be put in the freezer. Just a delicious fish-based meal and absolutely no Jello!

  21. Sarah Butler says...

    I have two! Pink Cloud and Cranberry Fluff. Both are made with frozen or canned fruit, cool whip, and the later also includes marshmallows! These dishes are strictly referred to as ‘salads’ in Nebraska :)

    • Tessie says...

      My mother in law makes this!!! Every time I see it, I can’t believe it!

  22. Not Me says...

    Mine belongs to my husbands family, and the first time I saw it when we were still just dating, it was almost a deal breaker. Well, after I figured out what it was exactly. Now this may not be a surprise to some, but for me it was horrifying. Celery with “cheese’. Not like nice cool celery sticks with a cheesy creamy dip ala artichoke parmigiana dip, but full length celery sticks filled with bright fluorescent orange cheese stuff. I freely admit that up until that time, I was a hippie child and had never encountered this bizarre “food” thing. It was awful, horrible, not to mention hideous; served on a platter with strained canned black olives, it was (still is) vaguely Halloween like, similar to me to the spaghetti and grapes in a bowl to simulate brains in the haunted house. To my astonishment, his family at it all up. ALL of it. Regardless of the feast to come. Twenty four years later his family carries on his grandmothers tradition and they still love it. It’s part of the whole whose going to make what process.

    It should be mentioned that EVERYTHING I’ve ever brought to any holiday no matter the ingredients is always labeled “Her Hippie Food”, and generally overlooked (in the kindest of ways).

    It should further be mentioned that they did introduce me to the glory of “Grandpas Clam Dip”. It ONLY comes out at Thanksgiving, and my Father in Law guards the recipe fiercely. He will not share, and absolutely will NOT make it any other time of year. It’s prized by the whole clan, and once many years ago, I even witnessed a younger very sweet shy cousin (~5 years old) yell at an adult to “STOP EATING ALL THE F**K’N CLAM DIP!” then proceed to guard the bowl and devour it as fast as he could like a feral animal. I don’t know what all is in it; all I know is that it’s obscene. Cream cheese, lemon juice, scallions, horseradish, clams, Tabasco? That’s just my guess, and I assume I’ll never know. Served with only the crispiest and saltiest of kettle chips. Divine artery clogging goodness in a faded blue Pyrex bowl.

    They’re a weird family, but somehow I fit right in. Go figure.

    • Anna says...

      LOL 😂 this is so terribly great.

    • Julee says...

      Now I want the clam dip!!!

    • Darcie says...

      This is so hilarious!!!

    • Biz says...

      Omg that story about the little cousin is gold. Thanks for sharing! That just made my morning.

    • I nominate the “F**K’N CLAM DIP” excerpt as a #cupofjoquote for the week! Dying laughing over here!!

  23. Amy says...

    Definitely always had a jello salad, too. On my mom’s side it was always a molded jello ring with canned pineapple chunks, grated carrots, chopped celery, and whatever other fruits/vegetables Grandma felt like putting in that year.

    On my dad’s side it’s usually a 9×13 of red jello (any flavour) with similar additions, plus the ambrosia “salad” with canned mandarin segments, canned pineapple chunks, and mini coloured marshmallows.

    I once attended a Thanksgiving in Washington state and my friend’s mom asked the two Canadian guests to tell her a side dish that we always had at our Thanksgiving/Christmas meals. I suggested jello salad. She graciously made it, and I was the only one who ate it! I was floored – did no one else have this?! Apparently they do, according to the many jello-themed comments here!

    • Not Me says...

      That first part reminds me Aunt Bethany from Christmas Vacation, when she makes a jello mold with cat food floating in green jello.

  24. Jessica says...

    We also have a jello side dish that is actually my most favorite part of the meal. It’s a cranberry jello salad with pecans, celery, pineapple, and fresh cranberries and takes place of our cranberry sauce. It makes the turkey so bright and festive and is a great condiment on sandwiches. I love the midwest. Very sad I’m going to be at the inlaws this year for Thanksgiving.

    • Alex Zimmerman says...

      My mom always made this jello salad too. For some unknown reason, she put a dollop of mayo on the top. It made me want to gag.

  25. Ray says...

    Ours is this weird but surprisingly delightful strawberry pretzel mixture. I don’t even know that we’ve given it a name… just that every year someone asks, “Are you going to make the strawberry pretzel thing?” and every year the response is, “Yup!” It’s a base of slightly crush pretzels mixed with lots of melted butter and sugar and baked into a crust. Then some concoction of cream cheese and whipped cream as the middle layer. And then strawberry jello and frozen strawberries to top it all off. Not at all “Thanksgivingy” but a prefect combo of sweet and salty that we eat at every meal until it runs out. It never makes an appearance any other time of the year. Must be like girl scout cookies, the scarcity of it makes it extra special

    • Kaitlin says...

      Oh my goodness- this was going to be my comment! My family calls this “strawberry stuff” and if it isn’t there, it isn’t a holiday… we make double what we need so we can enjoy it all week! Planning to bring this one to my first Thanksgiving with my in-laws this year.

    • Lynea says...

      This is called Strawberry Pretzel Dessert or (laughably) Strawberry Pretzel Salad. It is an absolute staple at Southern church picnics. One of my favorite things to eat as a kid, and possibly more nostalgic than boxed mac and cheese! As an aside, this is also the only recipe I’ve ever attempted to “lighten up” for my family that was NOT WELL RECEIVED. Just pour in the butter and live your best life.
      https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/strawberry-pretzel-salad/376aa27c-19a2-4114-9c80-20a431fc269b

    • molly says...

      Lynea, thank you for posting the recipe!! I’m totally gonna make it for my family! My paternal grandmother from PA used to make a green jello cottage cheese dish that I kinda loved – but this strawberry pretzel salad will much more likely appeal to my munchkins:) xo

    • Nicole says...

      I have never been a fan of any jello concoction and growing up near Cincinnati but still Kentucky these things were never on the table (thank goodness!)

      However, moving just a little south to Louisville this stuff is everywhere including “strawberry pretzel thing”— the best comment I’ve heard/best observation I’ve seen is when the thing doesn’t set and the pretzels get soggy. They talk about it like they’re at a funeral and there’s so much southern shaming. “Bless your heart, you tried didn’t you?” They might as well add, “Just add this to your other list of failures,” as you hear the person who made it reviewing play by play where it could’ve gone wrong.

      The strawberry pretzel thing is very real. I also, in my opinion, know where it went wrong. It was the second that monstrosity was ever thought to be on the Thanksgiving table.

    • Maureen says...

      We have this too every single Thanksgiving! It is tasty, but I always thought no one else had this in November and that one of my older great aunts accidentally brought a 4th of July dish to Thanksgiving.

    • Shan says...

      My husband’s family has this every year. The first year we were married I asked what I could bring, thinking they’d have me bring sweet potatoes, or a veggie. They told me to bring this very dish. I had no idea what it was and had to look it up on the internet!

      I grew up in Seattle, but my great-grandmother was from Southern Utah. We always had jello salad with marshmallows and chunks of fruit. As I kid (and to be honest, even to this day) I couldn’t eat it. I’ll take the Strawberry Pretzel mixture over jello salad any day!

  26. Laura says...

    I think this is the only time I’ve found the Cup of Jo comments section to be truly nauseating… 🤣

    • K says...

      Same!!! I am so happy to hear of the joy these dishes bring everyone, and the family memories they represent… But I am absolutely astounded to hear the extent to which jello (?!?!) features so prominently in these holiday meals!! The first time I heard of ambrosia salad (via a recipe shared on another favorite blogger’s site) I sincerely thought it was a joke (she had a quirky, practical-joke sense of humour; I thought maybe she was wondering how many readers would take the bait and try her “recipe”). A quick google search confirmed that ambrosia salad was an actual thing… But I never would’ve guessed how widespread! I thought jello dishes were the sorta thing that only existed on fun Buzzfeed posts about odd recipes from the 1970s lol. My mind is truly blown! But I’ll cap this off with another round of what’s most important: YAY for cherished family recipes and time spent with loved ones :)))

  27. Erin says...

    When I was a kid, my mom always made carrot casserole at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was steamed sliced carrots, diced onions and green peppers, pieces of saltine crackers, and shredded colby or cheddar, baked in the oven until everything formed into a cohesive mass. It’s weirdly tasty.

  28. Megan Lec says...

    Our “Glark” is Fairy Banquet. Please don’t ask me what it is made of because I truly do not know. Every family gathering this delicious and offensively sweet treat makes its way to our table. It is basically a glorious conglomeration of jello and marshmallow that is sickly sweet and yet still gets a chocolate sauce topping because more is more. Purists use a minimal amount of chocolate sauce but I like mine swimming in it. Cheers to all the glarks out there! I think we need a cupofjo hashtag this holiday season to celebrate and see all these wondrous creations!

    • ally says...

      omg yes i’d love to see everyone’s!

  29. Holly says...

    Fresh cranberry-orange relish made in a meat grinder! I helped my mom make it when I was a girl, and now my daughters help me. Its provenance is a complete mystery to me and I honestly don’t care. It tastes so fresh and bright, the perfect contrast to the meal’s heaviness. After spending a couple thanksgivings with boyfriends’ families in my twenties and enduring their gross-ass cranberry sauce, my mom bought me my own meat grinder so I could always provide my own relish. Usually nobody else even tries it, which is THEIR LOSS. The recipe, if anyone’s interested: buy an old fashioned hand-crank meat grinder that clips to the edge of a table (okay fine a food processor would probably work but so much less magical). Stuff cranberries in, and crank the handle. Throw in an orange slice occasionally (rind and all) and grind it up with the cranberries. Once you’ve got a big bowl of ground cranberries and oranges, mix in sugar. The ratio is 1 bag of cranberries : 1 orange : 1 cup of sugar. Thank you for this amazing post and long live cranberry relish.

    • Kristen says...

      My family does this too! My grandparents did it, and now my uncle has the grinder. Making the relish with him before Thanksgiving as a kid is such a bright memory and was a highlight of the holidays.

      I only realized in my 30s that I actually enjoy eating it, though! haha

    • Steph says...

      YES! I came down here to write this myself, but you’ve already taken care of it. By far my favorite part of any Thanksgiving meal, and it’s not even from our own family. About a decade ago, my parents started inviting a wealth of friends to celebrate with us, and this is one of their recipes. But now it’s not Thanksgiving without it.

      I do have to say though that it’s infinitely better with walnuts :)

    • Cheka says...

      We do this too! Although with an apple thrown in the recipe, along with each orange. Part of the annual drama is whether this will be the year we will have lost the screw that holds the 1930s-era meat grinder together. And I treasure the years of Thanksgiving photos of whoever the youngest members of the family happen to be at the time, carefully feeding the fruit in and turning the hand crank! Way better than any of the jellied or cooked cranberry dishes.

    • Tammi Dower says...

      We make this too! We add walnuts and strawberry jello as a binder. SOOOOO great on turkey sandwiches.

    • Jen says...

      My family makes this also, but adds apples to the mix. It’s my mom’s favourite, and the freshness of it is great with the heavy meal.

    • Em says...

      Oh no! This is the thing that my in-law family makes and calls “cranberry sauce,” but it is not cranberry sauce–it crunches! I miss actual homemade cranberry sauce with wild abandon every Thanksgiving! This year, I am making the real deal to share and hoping that won’t seem rude! but I may be guarding the bowl like the oyster dip mentioned above! ;o) Love these comments!

    • Diane says...

      I love this and make it, too. Or I used to until I discovered that Trader Joe’s has a great version in their refrigerated area.

  30. Katie N says...

    YES! Sounds like ours – we call it 7-up salad (now that I know the name), because that’s another one of the questionable ingredients. Funny story – I guess my mom once mistakenly called it Waldorf Salad, or somehow I got confused. Fast foward I’m in posh NYC in my 20s and get excited about seeing it on a menu, only to order and realize it was NOT the jello mold dessert of my youth.

    • Andrea says...

      Aww! Hahaha, I find this flash forward incredibly adorable.

  31. Rachel says...

    Our Glark is similar and in the Jell-o family! Simply called, Jell-o salad. It’s two layers of jell-o (we like black cherry) with strawberries and pineapple in it, with a thin layer of sour cream in the middle. It’s bizarre and everyone is always surprised the center isn’t whipped cream or cream cheese. You need the sour to offset all that sugar! We only make it for Thanksgiving dinner.

    • Lindsay says...

      Yes! We make something similar at Christmas – we call it Nana’s Hello Salad. But we add crushed pineapple to the strawberry Jello. The tang if the sour cream is a perfect complement! Miss you Nana 🧡

    • Lindsay says...

      Oh ha! You totally wrote pineapple 🤣 The addition of strawberries sounds delicious!

  32. Kate H says...

    My grandma use to make something called Russian Green Salad (why Russian? no idea.) with me and now I’ve become the keeper of this recipe and am charged with making it for every holiday, including Thanksgiving. It’s lime jello with more marshmallows than I care to think about plus cream cheese, lemon juice, pineapple, and nuts. It’s sweet, it’s gross, and I love it so much!

    • Holly says...

      My grandma makes this too! Our family calls it Green Stuff.

  33. Dana says...

    Cream cheese and olives. Spread onto Ritz crackers. Just chopped up green olives and a splash of olive juice mixed in with a block of cream cheese. So salty. So good.

  34. Kiri says...

    Haven’t been able to read through the comments, so it may have already been mentioned, but PRETZEL JELLO. It was my husband’s maternal grandmother’s traditional Dutch, midwestern dish. Pretzel crust with suspended canned mixed fruit in strawberry jello, topped with a layer of cool whip. When I attended the first Thanksgiving with his family, and saw it on the table, I was like um no way. But it’s strangely delightful! The contrast of flavors and textures is pretty amazing. Grandma has since passed, but I’m hoping my mother in law will make it this year so that my kids (age 5 and 2) can experience it too!

    • HH says...

      Yes! We eat that “pretzel jello salad” at Christmas and I love it, too. There’s cream cheese in the version we make, which was originally my grandmother’s recipe. The sweet and salty and creamy and crunchy more than makes up for the name, which seems like three words that should never ever go together!

      But our Glark is “Kuba.” A supposedly “Bohemian” dish that involves barley, mushroom soup, mushrooms, and sausage. Our family is divided among those who eat Kuba and those who do not. It is a test for any newcomers to the Thanksgiving meal!

    • Laura Bowles says...

      My family eats the same cream cheese mixture, just spread into “logs” of celery! It really is so yummy!

  35. Sharon in Scotland says...

    I am slightly obsessed with all things Thanksgiving, (I have Sam Sefton’s book on how to do it properly), but the thing I don’t understand is that there seems to be no tradition of roast potatoes on the table……………………..crispy on the outside, fluffy and steamy on the inside, sitting on the plate soaking up gravy, come on people…………total joy! Do roasties make it onto ANY Thanksgiving tables?

  36. Melissa says...

    My Baltimore family has three: sauerkraut, butter beans, and ambrosia (a weird but wonderful combination of sour cream, canned mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, shredded coconut, and miniature marshmallows). My PopPop and MomMom died many years ago, but these dishes continue to be their spiritual presence at our Thanksgiving table.

    • Carrie says...

      My NC family loves ambrosia!! My cousin one time took it to a vegetarian pot luck Tgiving and got ridiculed! Some people just don’t appreciate its deliciousness!

    • Rachel says...

      In Utah we call this frog eye salad. Any time I’ve referenced it out of the state I always got the most strange looks. Worst name for such a good treat!

  37. Laura A says...

    Our glark is canned cranberry sauce, carefully removed from the can so that you can see the ribbing from the tin in all its cylindrical, gelatinous glory. No one ever eats it, but the table would not be complete without it.

    • Kate H says...

      Oh my gosh yes! My brothers and I use to think it was the height of luxury to see the “designs” on the cranberry sauce…only to find out years later that its simply the indentations from the can it comes in.

    • Allison P says...

      Ha!! My family as well! But we would place it in a beautiful dish and then carefully slice it up. As if making it look pretty would somehow class it up. LOL!!!

    • Jess says...

      I’m just going to leave this here (saw this company at a holiday bazar and could not stop laughing). https://www.cranberrysaucer.com/

    • Erin says...

      “Cranberry sauce, a la Bart!”

    • Cory says...

      We say our thanksgiving table is incomplete without “ribs” 🤣🤣

  38. Meagan says...

    I love seeing all of these versions of weird orange jello dishes! Our family’s version is Orange Jello with Mandarin Oranges and Crushed Pineapple suspended in it, topped by a layer of Mini Marshmallows and then a layer of sweetened sour cream! My grandmother used to also add shredded cheese to the top of that, but we’ve all decided that was a little too strange and stopped at the sour cream. Surprisingly, its one of my very favorite desserts!!!

  39. Alison says...

    I come from a family of the least observant Jews you could imagine, but our tradition (though no one remembers its origins) is having matzo ball soup as the first course of Thanksgiving dinner. Warm, comforting, and goes so perfectly with the rest of the meal — it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it!

  40. Annon says...

    My family is Italian and we have an intense round of antipasto before we eat what I can only describe as about 20 different giant casserole rectangles full of potatoes (three different types), stuffing, green beans, etc. etc. So when I went to my husband’s siblings Thanksgiving , someone brought a single can of creamed corn, I was EXTREMELY CONFUSED. They opened the one can, dumped it out into a bowl and no one really touched it. I now understand, two years later, that this must be their Glark.

  41. Carrie says...

    Ours was my grandmother’s “Coke Salad” – a jell-o like creation with frozen (maybe canned?) cherries and flat Coke. It was opaque violet and, as a child, I felt it possessed an extraterrestrial quality to it. My grandmother has since passed, and while my mom threatens to revive the Coke Salad, it’s been notably absent from our holiday table.

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      I think this one wins, Carrie!

    • Libby Monaghan says...

      As a rule I really dislike jello… but for some reason I want this so badly.

  42. Kristen says...

    My dad is one of 10, so Thanksgiving is a massive family reunion, and everyone knows which dish they’re responsible for. My dad is the potatoes guy. Every year he brings a variety, but he absolutely must show up with green chile and cheese mashed potatoes. It always surprises the two or three family newbies/first-time guests, but it’s also always the fastest gone.

    • Sara B says...

      My dad used to make similar mashed potatoes with green chilies, carrots, and cream cheese. Sounds weird but man they were good

    • Sarz says...

      That sounds delicious. I’ve never tried potatoes this way, but I may just have to attempt it! Also: 9 aunts and uncles?! As someone from a teeny, tiny clan, your family gatherings sound like a full-fledged Party. :)

  43. jules says...

    One of these posts made me wonder- what time do you all eat your dinner? My family is nuts and can’t contain themselves so we always eat at like 2pm and have seconds later. Do you guys eat later or earlier??

    • Angela says...

      My parents are strict on the 5pm dinner time. Like they will not adjust it for anything, regardless of anyone being able to show up then. We normally stretch the meal and and play games after and check out the sale ads.

  44. Katherine says...

    “Beans and crunchy stuff”! Otherwise known as your standard green bean casserole. I don’t know when the term “crunchy stuff” was coined for the fried onions, but it has stuck in my family for as long as I can remember. No holiday is complete without the beans and crunchy stuff!

  45. Asia says...

    My dad would always make a small dish of creamed pearl onions, in honor of my grandmother, who loved them. Almost no one ate them, but they were an homage!

    • Kristen says...

      Yes! My aunt (married to one of my dad’s brothers) makes these every year, though no one at our family table ever eats them… I believe it’s in homage to HER mother, who apparently always served and loved them. As a kid, I was so confused about those untouched pearl onions taking up space on the table, but as I get older, I am moved that she brings that piece of her family and table with her.

  46. Claire says...

    Could be a Polish thing, could be a Wisconsin thing, either way our “Glark” is sour kraut. Sure it may come from the same can one uses when heaping a forkful onto a brat, however the Thanksgiving version roasts for hours in the oven. Roasting makes it turn into pure caramelized deliciousness (thanks to the white sugar sprinkled on during the roasting process*). There are never leftovers. In fact, this dish doesn’t last nearly as long as the lingering kraut smell.

    *One year I tried to use coconut sugar to make it a liittttle healthier and was almost cast out of the family!

  47. Jody says...

    My husband’s uncle insists on making “cheesy peas,” a dish inherited from his own father. Frozen peas, a bag of shredded cheese, and enough time in the microwave to turn it into a watery mess. I think he’s also responsible for a truly stomach-churning oyster dressing that shows up every year. 😂

    • Katherine says...

      This sounds truly terrible.

    • ally says...

      Oh gosh when i was an unhealthily dieting teen i swear i lived off microwaved peas with just a little bit of melted cheddar on top. this has given me flashbacks lol

  48. Jane says...

    Our glark are baked mashed potatoes consisting of cream cheese, sour cream, butter, chives and of course mashed potatoes. The richest, creamiest side dish ever. I only make it for Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner. Never any other time.

    • Julie says...

      We have these too! Do you make the Silver Palate recipe (the ultimate 80s cookbook)?

  49. Caroline Pierce says...

    We always have a small tray of raw celery stalks. Undressed and unadorned.

    • Kristen says...

      LOL

  50. Elizabeth says...

    we always have yorkshire pudding. no on ever cares to eat it, but it’s treated as a family member, and we can’t celebrate thanksgiving or christmas without it.

  51. Kate Koppenhoefer says...

    Pink Slop! Jello powder, crushed pineapple, cottage cheese, and cool whip. My dad is gone and I eat with my in laws now and now I bring it. I don’t even care. It is so low brow and weird and I love it and my kids love it. The rest of the time I’m all green smoothies and Alison Roman recipes but dammit I love pink slop.

  52. Malinda says...

    Dad’s Famous Sweet Potato Casserole
    -which must be made with canned yams, Ritz crackers, walnuts, butter, and marshmallows. It tastes like dessert, but is served with the meal and it’s just not Thanksgiving without it.

  53. Alice says...

    As a Brit, I’m literally sat here in wide eyed confusion. You put SAVOURY THINGS inside JELLO?! Does this go on your plate alongside the turkey and gravy? Or are these “jello salads” dessert? And most importantly… why are roast potatoes not part of a thanksgiving meal?! I LOVE learning about US food traditions, and I’m sure many of the british ones would confuse people just as much (I’ll be the first to admit that on the face of it, mince pies and christmas pudding are a bit odd)!

    • Deb says...

      Same, this completely blows my mind. I feel like mince pies and Christmas pudding were invented so long ago that people didn’t know better, but fruit and mayonnaise? And call it a “salad”? Bonkers! Love it :-D.

    • Margaret says...

      I’m Scottish but my mother is American, and each year we would go to the “American Women’s Group” potluck Thanksgiving, with so many of these wonderful Glarks contributed from expats from all over the US. I recognize an astonishing number of them from my childhood. But my Scottish aunt felt the same way as you in the 80’s, when we invited her along. She grew up during the war, was very traditional and ate plain food, so the riot of multicolored sugary “salads” and vegetables completely bemused her. When we invited her to come and have some pie afterwards, she literally didn’t understand, as she thought the jello and fruit and cream and marshmallows were the dessert!

    • Susie says...

      Fellow Brit here, my mind is blown too! I cannot get over mayonnaise in a fruit salad eeeeek! Perhaps American mayo is sweet??! With regards to our specialities, I have to say that I don’t think they’re quite as weird. Maybe I would think that though…hhhmmn. But mainly ours seem more standard because we don’t combine sweet and savoury! Mince pies are sweet and eaten alongside tea or coffee. Christmas pudding is a dessert that you eat with appropriate dessert things and at dessert time, not on the plate with the turkey etc etc! And indeed, I couldn’t do without roast potatoes!

    • Alice says...

      Natane, thanks for the link! That’s super interesting and I love knowing more about where this has come from! (Still not sure I’d choose to eat it myself, but yay that so many people love it!)

  54. Deb says...

    Green fluffy stuff! Every holiday! Pistachio Instant pudding mix, crushed pineapple, and Cool Whip. Not really great, just the memories of Boompy, Mom, and other family members around the table…It’s like a toast to those who have passed on.

    • Megan Lec says...

      Deb we make this! I once watched in horror as my brother ate his way through the entire bowl the day after Thanksgiving! I don’t partake but “Green Jello” is cherished in our household.

    • Reesa says...

      We have this too, I thought we were the only ones! We call it Pistachio Salad and it’s at every major holiday.

    • Stephanie says...

      We call it Senior Citizen Salad- I assume because you don’t have to chew it 😂 I love it, and insist on having it at Easter!

  55. Jessica says...

    Oh my goodness, this is fascinating! I’m not American, and reading about all these strange combinations of fairly normal foods is just incredible. Especially the ones with jell-o! And mayonnaise! And fruit! And celery! And pretzels! And cottage cheese! All together!! How does this work??? How do you eat these things together? Who decided that ‘random things suspended in jell-o with mayo and/ or cottage cheese/ gravy’ was a good idea?! I absolutely cannot imagine how any of this would taste (or even look!). FASCINATING.

  56. Melinda says...

    As a non-American, this is a fascinating glimpse into your traditions. Most of these dishes sound kind of disgusting but that’s probably what makes them so great!

  57. Mandarins and pineapple in an orange jello / cream cheese mix we call a “salad” with a completely straight face.

  58. Ariella Hartman says...

    Corn soup! For the longest time, my aunt (dad’s sister) tried to replicate the recipe another of my aunts (mother’s SIL) gave her for corn soufflé. She tried for a good decade to make it work, but the soufflé never…soufflé-ed. My dad nicknamed the dish “Corn Soup,” and debates were had each year over whether or not this year’s version was closer to that Platonic Ideal of a soufflé. When I was a teenager, she decided to take it off the menu (my dad’s jokes about corn soup started early that year) and there was a riot at the Thanksgiving table. Where was the corn soup?! Turns out, it just wasn’t TG without that dish, and it’s been on the menu every year since!

  59. Michelle says...

    Our version of glark was lime jello with a safeway coleslaw suspension and I don’t miss it one bit!

  60. Aimee says...

    At first I was sad reading these comments, thinking my family didn’t have a weird, funny, rom-com-y jello glark. Then I remembered our ambrosia salad!

    Yes, another “salad” with no lettuce that’s basically a dessert. It’s a goopy mixture of small marshmallows and canned mandarin oranges and pineapples. I definitely always ate around the canned fruit and never understood why anyone would ever pair something other than chocolate, graham crackers, or ice cream with marshmallows. Funny that I didn’t find it odd that it was called a salad and was included with Thanksgiving dinner. I guess that’s what makes it a glark!

  61. Jennifer says...

    My personal favorite Glark – Creamed Chipped Beef! Always had it to ladle over rolls, etc. And there was always a relish tray of black olives, celery, sweet gherkins, and an ambrosia salad of whipped topping, grapes, marshmallows, shredded coconut, canned mandarins, jarred cherries, and chopped pecans. My Midwest is showing!

    • Hanna says...

      Oh, I love creamed chipped beef! My army vet father was horrified by my love of it. I have it on a baked potato for a quick week night supper.

  62. Lizzie says...

    Lol yessssss bread sauce at Christmas!

  63. Susie says...

    I’m British and I can’t stop coming back to this thread to marvel at the mystifying myriad of dishes that are part of a traditional Thanksgiving feast. I had no idea! A “salad” of marshmallows and jelly! Sweet potatoes with marshmallows! Mayo in a fruit salad! Jelly served with savoury dishes! Jelly with nuts! Cottage cheese in jelly! The mind boggles!! What even is cool whip? I’m trying hard to think of what the UK equivalent to these dishes are but I can’t! Are we really so dull? Or do we just not see our own dishes for what they are?

    • HH says...

      Susie, you made me laugh out loud. If you ever are in Oklahoma, look me up. You can sample all of these delights (some less delightful than others) at my family’s Thanksgiving. Probably not eating Cool Whip will extend your life by three years. Ha.

    • CoolWhip = whipped-cream-like foam filled with chemicals and sold in plastic tubs. Also available in aerosol cans.

    • Susie says...

      Ha ha ha, thank you HH! Who knows – I may take you up on that one day! Bring on the salad delights :-)

  64. Katharine says...

    My parents Thanksgiving and Christmas menu is not complete without “Glorified Rice”. It’s white rice mixed with whip cream and either crushed pineapple, fruit cocktail or some other fruit and then layered alternating with 2 different colors of jello. Sometimes my mom will throw marshmallows into the mix too. It’s more dessert than anything but we all pile it onto our plate alongside the mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy. My husband, who is from Switzerland, is horrified by it of course.

    • emily says...

      Glorified Rice! Oh Katharine, this is it. Between the proud, multi-colored jello layers and the adorable 70s/80s spin on rice pudding, truly, the glory is almost too much. Happy holidays and thanks for sharing this!

  65. Clare says...

    My grandma always made “pink stuff” at Thanksgiving. It was something Jell-O-like, but it was pink and opaque with fruit chunks inside. I never ate much of it, but I miss seeing it on the table now that she’s gone. Now we all reminisce about it every year and share a laugh about how gross it was.

    • Meagan says...

      “Pink Stuff” trots itself out in my family for most occasions – our family loves it! Cherry Pie Filling, Cool Whip, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Mandarin Oranges, Pineapple Chunks, Marshmallows and Nuts :) I’m glad to know we aren’t the only ones who call it Pink Stuff!

    • kristi dansereau says...

      I commented before I saw this, but my in laws serve this same dish, but somewhere inserted the word “salad” to really fancy it up. Pink salad, a dish primarily made of chemicals. It is delightful.

  66. Carrie says...

    Our family’s glark is a banana salad – sliced bananas with a mayo based dressing sprinkled with Spanish peanuts. I’ve NEVER seen this at another dinner table but I have to admit it’s not Thanksgiving without it!

    • Ashleigh says...

      This one wins the thread! banana-mayo-peanut salad. Congratulations on your outstanding glark.

    • Deb says...

      I’m so sorry but this would be my food nightmare I’m almost crying with laughter about it :’-D. Love peanuts but bananas make me throw up and mayo is only OK in very small doses. I would joyfully snaffle the peanuts off the top though!

    • Elliesee says...

      I heard about the Mormon banana-mayonnaise salad and always laugh about how two good things like this really don’t go together – an acquired taste?

    • Jen M. says...

      We have something similar! (I’m in central Kentucky). Chunks of banana (maybe 2-3 per banana) rolled in mayo and crushed peanuts. Banana croquettes are a potluck staple. They may sound disgusting, but they’re so delicious!

    • At my house our most ridiculous conversations happen while we are all doing dishes. Once we tried to come up with the grossest food we could thing of, and bananaise (banana mayonaise) was the winner. Now you’re telling me bananaise is real????????

  67. Shannon Murphy says...

    My grandmother made a “glark” (Though the word is new to me) that was red jello with pitted cherries and green and black olives. I would always leave a heap of olives on my plate. Damn I miss that.

  68. Arielle Otero says...

    Our family is half Filipino so we have traditional Thanksgiving foods, plus rice, egg rolls, and goat stew!

  69. Rachel says...

    We have something called “hard sauce.” Basically butter and sugar beaten together and molded into a bowl and chilled. As if we need more of either. But it’s delish with pie!

    • Lori says...

      Omg it’s been many, many years but my family had this too. I grew up in RI, maybe it’s a New England thing?

  70. Jess says...

    It’s called “summer salad”, which we have at thanksgiving, not summer, and is a jello dish, not a salad. It’s made with orange jello and is full of carrot, canned pineapple, nuts, and cottage cheese. We have it every year and even when it fails to be picked up during the meeting where the dishes are divided up between the family as to who will cook what, it magically appetite the buffet.

    • Cheryl says...

      Summer Salad!!! Wow, I completely forgot about this family delicacy (ahem). I might have to revive this tradition this year!

  71. I think our “Glark” would definitely have to be my mom’s homemade stuffing or cheesy potatoes! Not in the sense of it being weird or unknown why it’s there, but because it’s so good! My mom is one of the best cooks in our family and her stuffing is by far the best stuffing. Even the vegetarian kind she makes for me.

  72. Louise says...

    Sweetheart salad. Pink salad that contained pineapple, maraschino cherries, whipped cream, cream cheese. Utterly delicious. I’ve not made it, but this has got me wanting it!

  73. Kate says...

    We have a Glark! Only it doesn’t involve jello and is called Gifte (“yifte”). The recipe was given to us by a dear family friend. Our grandparents lived far away, and we always considered her our local grandma. I think the recipe is Norwegian in origin? It’s layers of whipped cream, saltine crackers and cranberries. My husband thinks it’s horrifying, but it’s not Thanksgiving for me unless this dish is sitting on the table at turkey time. I’m sure our friend, now long passed, is with us in spirit when that dish gets on the table, and our day, like our lives, is fuller for having had her in it.

    • Deb says...

      I am so making Gifte! International dining!

  74. Elle says...

    Our “Glark” on Thanksgiving has always been known affectionately as Eyes I’m Glue. It’s Birds Eye brand pearl onions in a cream sauce. I say that very specifically because one year my sister tried to make actual creamed pearl onions and she got a wooden spoon thrown at her. No, it must be in the white cardboard container, peeled back film on top, with the microwaved gloopy white sauce. No one likes it, but damn it, it’s just not Thanksgiving without it taking up room on the table.

    • Elle says...

      That’s Eyes in Glue. I am not glue. 😂

    • Beth says...

      Omg-this made me laugh out loud!

  75. Margaret says...

    My grandmother always made her mother’s cranberry jello mold for thanksgiving- fresh cranberries, walnuts, and celery mixed with sugar and Knox and formed into various molds depending on how many people were attending, then served with a dollop of mayo. Yep, good old Hellman’s.

    When my sister and I were old enough to sort berries, my mom took over, and now I make it every year because it tastes like family.

  76. Hannah says...

    Ours is oyster stuffing, in the New England tradition. I’ve never met another person who makes it, but it has some other supporters on the internet. It sounds odd (put oysters inside a turkey – weird!), but it’s the best part of Thanksgiving.

    • Kaitlyn says...

      My family does the same! But I’ll be honest my grandmother makes it with jarred oysters that always look a little green! I’m a seafood lover, but I’m not brave enough for oyster dressing 🦪

    • Hilary says...

      Ours is also oyster dressing, but we’re Southern! My mom sent me the recipe from a Virginia Hospitality cookbook from the 80’s(?) and I can’t wait to make my own.

  77. Britney says...

    Ours is Strawberry Jell-O, apples, crushed pineapple, whole berry cranberry sauce and pecans…and I LOVE IT. We do this instead of any cranberry sauce and It is the perfect acidic sidekick to all of the heavy food and is particularly good with a bite of dressing!

  78. Alex says...

    Boring one, but my family refused to do stuffing any other way than from the box!

  79. Rachel says...

    We had two versions of jello – “slime salad” aka green jello mixed with pineapple chunks and dream whip and cranberry salad, which was cherry jello mixed with finely chopped cranberries, walnuts, and celery along with powdered sugar and poured into a jello mold.

    We also had a casserole called corn and oysters.

  80. michaela says...

    Does anyone else have the problem of their family not making room for new dishes on the table? Both my parents and my in-laws have a set-in-stone menu! They always tell us we’re welcome to contribute something, but whatever we bring usually gets set aside or forgotten. We’re adults now and we want to make sure our parents aren’t shouldering all the work anymore, but also we’d like to start shaping the holiday in our own ways, too! (Like some other commenters, I also have a strong incentive to get some roasted brussels sprouts or a green salad on the table instead of another jello-based dish!) Will we just have to wait until the random someday when our parents give up hosting (and then we’re suddenly expected to plan the whole meal, even though we’ve never gotten the experience of doing so?) :)

    • A says...

      Yes!!! This! You’ve explained my struggles exactly. If it’s not exactly what we’ve grown up eating/making, its pretty much quietly rejected. Not because it’s bad (it’s really really not-I just want a few healthier options!) but because it’s not what has always been. I try to accept and bring but I want a chance to make something my kids will remember me for Making, too.

    • Mandi says...

      Yes!! I always try to make something new and my family (even the younger ones) give me side eye. I’m not a huge fan of the traditional thanksgiving meal… too cream-of-mushroomy for my taste.

    • Kate says...

      One year I took a simple shaved brussels sprouts salad and SO many people commented on it at dinner. I think everyone was ready for some fresher, never-been-canned greens on their plates! It was kind of funny.

    • Em says...

      I brought a homemade pecan pie (southern!) to my upper-midwest family-in-law’s Thanksgiving last year after missing my mom’s perfect salty-sweet non-gooey version for the past six years of married life and craving something other than yet another apple/other fruit pie with a thick crust. No one but me touched it the first day. But on day-after-eating eating, people tried it and said, “Hey! This is good!” Heh heh heh! I say take what you want to take and maybe someone will like it on leftovers day. ;o)

  81. Lisa Maria Meals says...

    HAHAHA I did the same!

  82. Tori says...

    This is not a holiday thing, but an any time of year thing in my moms family: cottage cheese & noodles. If you’re feeling fancy you can add tuna. My moms entire family eats it, except all of the married-in spouses who gag at it and think we’re all nuts. I’m keeping the tradition; my daughter loves it. It’s such an easy meal!

    • Rita says...

      This is a Hungarian staple called túrós tészta. Best with bacon!

  83. A says...

    Tiny porcelain pots of raspberry sherbet served alongside the meal – kept in the freezer until right before we sat down! Cream porcelain with a gold border – my grandmother’s tradition. Not sorbet – sherbet!

  84. Julie says...

    My husband’s grandmother always makes a jello coleslaw. It’s basically shredded cabbage inside bright green lime jello. Strange but not offensive to the taste buds.

    • Caroline says...

      We used to have this too, and although I don’t love it, it is sort of refreshing!

  85. Linda says...

    OUr Glark is a Pink Lady Salad. Don’t know how it is named “salad” Its really cheesecake with fruit cocktail and marshmallows. This was ALWAYS at the table of any family holiday at my inlaws….fwd now single living with my 2 daughters and the holiday table only seats 3 I still make the “salad” even though one of my daughters detests it. Somehow it comforts me and hope that it still gives them the feelings they had when our table was filled with family.

  86. Ashley Habib says...

    I have the flu and now all I want in life is cold Jello after reading this post!

  87. The turkey! For so many years my Grandmama and Mama would do the up-at-4am-basted-broiled-Norman Rockwell bird … then 5 years ago it just popped up in conversation that no one really cared for it. So far we’ve subbed homemade fried chicken, oven-roasted salmon, sliced prime rib, and, after one very challenging year, skipped the drama altogether and just made a huge meal out of our favorite sides.

    This year, I’m bringing the bird back — braised for hours in a homemade stock on a bed of onions and carrots. Fingers crossed!

  88. I have such a vivid memory of going to Thanksgiving at my great grandparents’ house when I was very little and every single dish was an aspic or a jell-o. There was even a molded salad full of iceberg lettuce. I remember being shocked and crushed that they were in fact not all dessert.

  89. Two words: tomato aspic…which is, simply put, tomato jello. It horrified me as a child and now I ADORE IT!

    • Briana says...

      i love tomato anything and this sounds really good!

    • Sarah says...

      This is a Julia Child special! Anyone remember this from the movie Julie & Julia? Haha

  90. Jessica says...

    My mother is also from Pennsylvania, but from Berks County in the East. She grew up having a sweet corn dish made from a product called John Cope’s Dried Corn, so I did as well. To this day, it is not Thanksgiving to me without a sizeable serving of that corn. For the past 15 years we’ve gone to my husband’s aunt and uncle’s house in San Rafael, CA, where the food is aggressively Californian and not the homey mix of Pennsylvania Dutch, Southern and Ohioan that I grew up loving. Fortunately, we’ve then always had a second Thanksgiving that Friday where I get to have my dried corn, and my other family glark – Ritz beans (green beans served with a delightful mix of crumbed Ritz and melted butter spooned over the top). I am thankful for my second Thanksgiving every year. This year we are shifting our Friday meal to Saturday and inviting friends to bring their favorite family dishes.

    • Ana D, lifelong Californian says...

      “aggressively Californian” = love

    • A.S says...

      Copes corn and potato stuffing for the win!

  91. Martha Patterson says...

    Somehow shrimp cocktail became our appetizer…..never my figured out how or why it became part of our Thanksgiving tradition!

    • Sharon says...

      My Aunt always makes this, too! So random, but now so expected.

    • Kristy says...

      Same here! Cold shrimp before the meal is a staple at our Thanksgiving!

  92. Beth says...

    I read through all these comments looking for our “pink stuff” which has NO Jell-O, just cool whip, canned pineapple and cherry pie filling, nuts, and marshmallows. There are so many things our Thanksgiving buffet that I have no idea who eats them but someone apparently does.

    • Elena says...

      Oh my god. Pink Stuff! My grandmother made it every year. Ours was served frozen in little ring molds, but no cherry pie filling… maraschino cherries instead. I get nostalgic for it sometimes. I can’t remember the name, must ask my mother!!!

    • Rachel says...

      I came here to comment about “pink stuff”!! My grandmother’s version involves canned pineapple, canned cranberry sauce, nuts, marshmallows, and sweetened condensed milk – frozen into a delicious slab. :)

    • Emily says...

      That is what our family has too! “Pink stuff” is the perfect description but specifying exactly what the taste is, is a whole different matter. :)

    • stacy says...

      We do this, but no nuts and we use shredded fresh cranberries instead of cherries.

    • Meagan Dean says...

      We’re Pink Stuff people too – in Texas. It gets made for pretty much every occasion around here, its such an easy dessert to throw together!

  93. Miche says...

    In Australia we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, so I have never come across the word “Glark”. I googled it. The meaning of “Glark” stated in the Urban Dictionary is somewhat different to the one I assume from the above post is used by Joanne and her family.

    • Kelly says...

      I, of course, had to check and I feel confident that you are correct in your assumption!

    • Elodie says...

      LOL had to do the same google search and was slightly taken aback 😂

    • spark says...

      I’m Aussie too and I had to google it as well. My goodness, that was an eye-opener!

    • Charlotte says...

      Hehe Miche, you piqued my curiosity so I had to look it up. I really makes the title of this post a bit more splashy doesn’t it? ;)

    • Sarah says...

      Oh my gosh! Fellow Aussie here and jeepers- that’s a word you don’t hear often! Ohhhhh just snorted with laughter *quietly* as I googled Glark whilst putting my two year old to bed. Ahhh Jenny, I really do love your style. Please never leave this blog, your posts are golden! Although I bet you didn’t google Glark like we did…

  94. Lauren says...

    Our version of Glark is called Cranberry Boop! Basically the same thing, but black raspberry jello (which is almost impossible to find) with cranberry juice added, plus the usual pineapple chunks and walnuts.

    • Heather T. says...

      I inherited a jello recipe when I married my husband – his grandmother who was a notoriously bad cook was known for this jello recipe. It is an orange jello that is punched up by boiling peach syrup and whole cloves, then adding diced cling peaches. The stupid sucker took me 3 years to get the ratio right, and I am a fairly good cook! Lol.

  95. KC says...

    I come from an Italian family that has been in Southern California for generations. And I say this to clarify that we have no just cause for any jello-related dishes. But every single year, we have “The Jello Mold,” which is this red jello (Raspberry? Cherry?), combined with cranberry orange relish and sprite. We all dutifully take a slice and I don’t think anyone but my mom and my grandma actually consume it!

    I accidentally started a tradition with bacon wrapped dates, I guess I brought them as an appetizer two years in a row, and have been informed I am not invited to my family Thanksgiving without them from here on out (I made a different appetizer one year and was ostracized). This year I’ll be super pregnant on Thanksgiving, so I had to teach my husband how to make it! My husband’s family usually does Thanksgiving without turkey or any traditional foods, but it is not Thanksgiving at their house without stuffed mushrooms! I love these traditions!

    • Alexis says...

      YES!!! I come from an Italian family from Chicago and we too have “The Jello Mold” and it’s made in exactly the same fashion! It never even crossed my mind that it wasn’t on everyone’s Thanksgiving table until I met my husband and he clearly asked me to clarify what it was.

  96. Charlie says...

    I love this concept of the glark! When I first attended Thanksgiving at my now-husband’s grandmother’s house in Texas, everything felt like a glark to me. Each dish was some kind of creamy, casserole-y something in various shades of beige and orange. It was all delicious, but I still remember the culture shock of not being able to recognize a single dish like the ones I’d grown up with. I always used to chastise my mom for including regular green salads as part of our Thanksgiving meals growing up, but after a few years of glark-ful meals with my husband’s family, I’d give anything for a discernible veggie as part of the spread! Haha.

  97. Haha I’m English and find this so fascinating – having jelly (jello) with savoury food on the table. So strange to me! And the marshmallow ‘salad’ thing always blows my mind.

    I had never heard of Glark so learned something new today :)

    • Linda says...

      I know!! marshmallows in a salad?!?! does not compute. Makes me want to look up the definition of a salad…it apparently doesn’t even have to contain anything green

    • Julia L. says...

      I think the role jello plays in your holidays is both regional and generational. I only saw jello in school lunches and hospital trays growing up in the Pacific Northwest, but I treasure Molly Yeh’s description of “cookie salad” (apparently a Midwest-famous combo of vanilla pudding, canned mandarin oranges, fudge stripe cookies, and frozen whipped cream; meant to be served as a main dish!!!!).

      No shade to jello, though. My all-time favorite food is Czech fruit dumplings, which are stuffed with apricots or plums, boiled, and topped with cottage cheese (it’s very important that you get the non-organic kind, because organic cottage cheese tastes like… actual cheese), cinnamon, and sugar. Every year, my mother makes them for my birthday, and everyone has to accept that if you’re planning to hang out with me on my birthday, the menu has been PRE-DETERMINED. (We can’t have anything else, because then my mom might try to wiggle out of making the very labor-intensive dumplings.)

    • Anna says...

      Fellow (slightly horrified) English person here!

      I did a course at university in the Sociology of Food, and feel this would provide some rich material! Where does the tradition of sweet sugary foods alongside turkey come from?

    • moreteaplease says...

      It’s really not so odd to have a bit of sweet/tart to offset rich, heavy foods…like mango chutney or tamarind chutney, Thai sweet chili sauce, sorbet as a palate cleanser between courses…or even the wines we pair with foods, no? I mean yes, Jello salads are a different beast completely, but a simpler cranberry sauce/relish provides a nice offset to the turkey-gravy-potatoes salt and fat feast.

  98. Kat says...

    This isn’t a Thanksgiving dish (we don’t celebrate…it makes me feel weird to celebrate colonialism so plainly, even though I know everything I do is touched by it…but I digress). But every year on Halloween my mother and I make potato cheese soup. Which isn’t that weird, except 1. why? and 2. it’s not even some quality recipe from yore, it’s pure midcentury convenience food made with Pace and Velveeta. But, it’s tradition now!

    • Louise says...

      I see Thanksgiving as a day to be thankful minus the colonialism. It’s all how you look at it.

    • Kat says...

      We’ve worked to mindfully practice gratitude every day :)

  99. mamabird says...

    This is fascinating! I’m Scottish and just can’t imagine eating these jello salads! Alongside savoury things?! Amazing. We call it jelly and it’s generally only found at very small children’s birthday parties…are we missing out?

    • Absolutely! Especially when it’s made with a fizzy liquid (Sprite, ginger ale, etc. or in the case of a French terrine, Prosecco) it’s a lovely palate cleanser between heaping helpings of buttery mashed potatoes, fluffy rolls, and gravy-kissed meat.

    • Eliza says...

      You’re not missing out, promise!

    • Kelly says...

      No. No you are not!

    • Lauren says...

      I was just wondering the same! I’m Australian and just can’t get my head around jello/jelly at the same time as the savoury things?! I was trawling through the comments trying to figure this out, thinking ‘surely not’!

      I mean sure, give me a trifle with jelly for dessert…

  100. Kristi says...

    “Banana salad” — ingredients include bananas, peanut butter, whipped cream, canned pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, and: mayonnaise.

    So ridiculous, so necessary.

  101. Madeleine says...

    My grandmother is from the Canadian prairies – southeast Saskatchewan to be exact, which is right across the border from North Dakota. Every thanksgiving since she was married at age 19, grandma has made jello “salad” i.e.: orange jello with shredded carrots and whipped cream. Even as a child the texture would make me gag. Only in the past few years, as a grown person in my mid 30s, has my grandmother stopped insisting I try it because “I might like it this year.” I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it!

  102. Sarah says...

    My grandma used to make those same wacky Jello dishes; she’d add grated carrots to green Jello. I swear she was the only one who’d eat it, too. Everyone in the family talked about it behind her back, scratching our heads…WHY?

    She’s gone now, so no more Glark. I guess I kind of miss it too! Mostly, I just miss her.

    It’s a fun memory either way. :)

  103. Caroline says...

    Creamed onions! They’re the best part of Thanksgiving but I haven’t celebrated with my parents in years since I always spend xmas with them so it’s been a while (and feels like a weird dish to bring to my fiance’s family’s TGiv). Creamed onions are basically jarred pearl onions in a creamy roux sauce and they are heaven.

    • Ana D says...

      Please be weird this year and bring your delicious creamed onions! If it’s too embarrassing, you can bring something fancy and/or conventional as protective coloration. I wish you luck this Thanksgiving, Caroline!

    • mindi says...

      My mom makes these every year, too! She is the only one who eats them (I tried once; not my jam. But I won’t yuck anyone’s yum).

    • Margaret Maley says...

      Our creamed onions are in a homemade cream sauce with diced celery, slivered almonds, and sherry. Baked in oven with paprika on top. They end up thick and not at all runny, delicious!

  104. Jillian says...

    The thing that baffles guests beyond our family is the crowded, table-creaking antipasto we spread out at 3 p.m. Proscuittio, ciabatta, mozzarella, more olive varieties than you can stick onto your fingers, grapes, crackers, more cheese, salami… “just a snack.” This tradition is more dear to us kids than Thanksgiving dinner (inevitably at 9 p.m.) because it hearkens back to our childhood in the Italian American New Jersey enclave where we grew up. Now that we live in a Southern California valley without a good Italian deli or bakery, it’s a scavenger hunt to piece it all together. I love following my mom around a dozen stores to collect each precious paper parcel. My boyfriend is equal parts horrified and impressed when he visits for Thanksgiving and is expected to eat a full meal a few hours later. Now that I’m a few years away from starting my own family, I appreciate this ritual even more!

    • Simone says...

      I’d be so into this!

    • Linda says...

      This sounds wonderful! I’m in

    • Kiersten says...

      My family heritage is Irish, but from New Jersey! And we do the exact. same. thing! I always felt like it was way too much food, but that is kind of the point, isn’t it?

    • Alex says...

      Lol my family is also here for the appetizers. We’re Scottish//canadian/American though 🤷‍♀️

  105. Micaela says...

    something we call “pink goo” we’re looking for a better name … my grandmother used to make it and my aunts make it now. Basically pink jello, canned fruits, and cool whip.

    I used to hate it but now it seems very nostalgic

    • Sarah says...

      YES. Anything with Cool Whip totally reminds me of Grandma, bless her heart.

  106. We have a huge family and on my dads side there are always as many desserts as there are savoury dinner dishes – we take dessert seriously and the dessert portion of dinner lasts just as long as the other stuff with everyone sitting around, drinking coffee (or something stronger!) and going back for seconds or thirds. But in that weird, full interim between the huge dinner and the huge dessert, for some reason we have always ALWAYS had a big tupperware filled with Jell-O squares go round the table at the end of dinner. The tupperware gets passed around the table until it’s gone and inevitably someone will throw one at someone else (the instigator is usually my dad or one of my aunts) and a short food fight will ensue. Usually the kids don’t even join in, it’s just something our parents (now in their 50s) have always done with their siblings (there are 5 of them). It’s a time honoured tradition and even though none of us even really like jell-o that much we get so upset if no one brings it one year.

  107. Meg says...

    Many years ago, my mom was making mac and cheese for a side dish. She accidently bought pineapple cottage cheese instead of regular cottage cheese. She decided to use it anyway…and the 30 or so guests gobbled it up and didn’t say a word about it!
    Now we have pineapple macaroni and cheese every single year. It’s so gross it’s kind of good ;)

    • Midwest Mama says...

      This reminds me of a non-Thanksgiving pie story that is family lore. My mom was pregnant with me at 18 and on bedrest. Her best friend (also 18) brings over her favorite kind of pie: pineapple sour cream. Only she had “accidentally bought chive-flavored sour cream” and went ahead and made the pie anyway. So, my very pregnant mother had to graciously eat a pineapple and chive sour cream pie while her sweet teenage friend sat and watched with much-anticipated delight. I could hurl just thinking about it, but I love the story and the image of friendship so much.

      Even gross food brings people together!

  108. Maire says...

    I wouldn’t say anything we make is a Glark, because a lot of the cream of casseroles and Jello is to be expected at my Midwestern table. But I will say that I always make a dish of mashed carrots, parsnips, and turnips with a bit of butter and parsley because it is something my Nana always had on her table and is my ultimate comfort food. Also, we always have port (or sometimes port-like cherry wine from Michigan) and pistachios for after dinner board game time.

  109. Holly says...

    THE CROWN JEWEL! Haha that’s literally what my grandma’s labor intensive jello dish is called. I know you have to make about 5 colors of jello cut them each up in tiny cubes and then put them all together in a bunt pan with some sort of whipped cream maybe gelatin mixture and chilled. When you turn it out it has all these jello “jewels” . I confess I deeply love it! And many times thought of making it on her behalf but man so.much.work for JELLO! 😂

    • Tracey says...

      My mom always made that, too, and I love it!! It had a delicious graham cracker crust with the jello and whipped cream. Maybe I should ask her to make it for Christmas this year. It has been awhile. Thanks for reminding me of that. She called ours “Cracked Glass”. Kind of a pretty name…

    • Julee says...

      My mom has very fond memories of this salad; besides her, you’re the only one who’s ever mentioned it! She too calls it “cracked glass salad” and I guess she loved it as a child growing up in Seattle.

  110. Edie says...

    My Aunt used to make this! I never enjoyed it. My brother and I still remember it fondly every year. Aunt Dorothea’s weird cranberry jello.

  111. Erin says...

    We always have what we refer to as “pineapple stuff”. A (delicious!) baked pineapple casserole made with bread and lots of butter. Seems so random, and I’m not entirely sure when it became a regular on the menu but I was told my grandma found the recipe in a magazine/book many years ago and we’ve been having it ever since. Tastes like nostalgia!

    • Beth says...

      My aunt makes this too and it’s my favorite! We call in pineapple bake.

    • Carrie says...

      We also make this! My recipe is named escalloped pineapple. It’s not thanksgiving without it ☺️

    • Madi says...

      We call it pineapple casserole & use Ritz crackers. It seems weird but it’s so delicious!

  112. Omaya says...

    Canned asparagus. CANNED! It was a tradition in our family dating back to my great grandmother. Only canned would do at Thanksgiving. When I took over the dinner making a few years ago, we nixed the side dish for the fresh version but some family members still complain.

  113. Vivian says...

    Ours is “ribbon salad” and it was my Grandma’s recipe. It’s a three layer dish – the first layer is green jello with suspended pineapple chunks, the next is a creamy whipped jello, and the top is cherry jello! We serve it mostly at Christmas (hence the colours) but the part that makes it weird is that it comes out with the main course. My husband can’t understand why, but we love it! :)

    • Kaia says...

      WE DO THIS TOO! My mom and I are the only ones who still love it/eat it, but it does look festive at the place settings. (For unknown reasons, it’s always sliced and placed on individual salad plates before the meal).

    • Wendy says...

      Ooo, my mother used to make this Christmas ribbon salad every year! I think the middle, white layer had cream cheese in it? She would serve it on little side plates atop a leaf of lettuce. Yummy, but very time consuming to make.

  114. Amy says...

    The most unusual thing we have is–always–lasagna. Apparently that was the centerpiece for my Italian great-grandparents’ holiday meals, and while turkey, pumpkin pie, etc. have all worked their way into the current generations’ menu, lasagna is still featured every year. Kids especially love it.

    • Rachel says...

      A friend of mine once told me how shocked she was when she realized every family in America didn’t eat lasagna for Thanksgiving!

    • Marisa says...

      This was us—though not lasagna, but manicotti or pasta. Like the person below commented about her friend, I had NO idea that not everyone would eat pasta before Thanksgiving dinner (which included a full turkey etc. etc.) I’m talking I didn’t realize it until high school, possibly college!

  115. Sadie says...

    Chip dip, pretzel dip, salmon dip, cheese dip…my parents grew up in the Midwest and they dip deep during the holidays.

    • Julee says...

      I love it! I’m a pacific-northwesterner (transplanted to New England), but I’ve always loved dips more than I can rationalize.
      Dip away.

    • teen! says...

      yes! so much dippage!
      I-294/94
      #represent

  116. Danielle says...

    I just love reading all the comments on this post! I feel like there was a time when there was a lot of embarrassment about old recipes that contained jello or cream of something soup. It’s nice to see the sentiment coming back around a bit. There’s so much history at our tables. For all the Midwesterners who commented I’ll always think of this scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywPLVZQ7Wis

    • KC says...

      Ha ha, I think I need to rewatch that movie!

  117. Cynthia Francois says...

    Growing up we always had olive oil seasoned w/salt and pepper put into clear highball glasses . Next to it , in a matching glass was cut up fresh celery sticks. Swirl celery in seasoned oil and enjoy.

    • Sarah says...

      That’s so elegant!

  118. Kaitlyn S. says...

    Creamed onions. I believe the story is that my grandmother loved them, so we made them. It was one of the grossest dishes – heavy cream sauce with pickled pearl onions. Now that she’s passed, we still make it to remember her. I don’t think anyone eats it though.

    • Martha Patterson says...

      My experience exactly!

  119. J says...

    My aunt used to make this WONDERFUL app (tho I think more for Christmas than thanksgiving), which was canned asparagus spears rolled up in mayo-slicked slices of wonderbread with a sprinkle of Parmesan, then toasted in the oven. Sooooooo good but sort of weird if you think about it too hard.

  120. Julie says...

    There’s nothing incredibly odd about my family’s Thanksgiving offerings, but there is always a bowl of coleslaw and a bowl of some sort of creamy cucumber salad. I have no idea who brings them OR who eats them, but there they are at the end of the buffet line every year, waiting for me to ignore them in lieu of a third helping of stuffing.

    We have between 40 and 50 people at my aunt’s house every Thanksgiving, so there are 3 turkeys, two types of mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes with pecans and brown sugar, Brussels sprouts with bacon, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole, corn, peas, rolls, and butternut squash and apple soup. It’s controlled chaos and I love every second.

    • Lisa says...

      My mom + her family always insist on coleslaw at Thanksgiving, too! I’ve never come across anyone else who has it hahaha

    • Sonja says...

      My in-laws make coleslaw every year, they insist on it because that’s what their Grandma did, and I absolutely hate it. I think it belongs at a summer picnic, not for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve been trying to change the menu/offer to make something in place of it/anything! But everyone insists on it. I’ve given up…it’s definitely their glark that I can’t stand.

  121. Brooke says...

    My family’s glark is also a jello dish! It’s called strawberry pretzel salad and is most definitely not a salad. It consists of a buttery crushed up pretzel crust, cream cheese based layer, and strawberry jello with sliced up strawberries on top. Sounds bizarre but we all love it!

    • Em says...

      We make that at Christmas! Salty-sweet deliciousness. Midwestern salads for the win.

    • Caroline says...

      We make this at Christmas too and it’s my favorite ever! The food blogger Half Baked Harvest just came up with an updated version in her new cookbook and I can’t wait to try (same crust, marscapone, and sliced strawberry in a tart)!

    • Dawn says...

      We call it Pretzello!

    • Grace says...

      We are also a die hard strawberry pretzel salad family! It’s so good!

    • Sadie says...

      I have had this at church dinners, but with the addition of cut-up pieces of Snickers!

  122. shannon says...

    There are several jello-oriented dishes in my Ohio family:
    *green (lime jello, cottage cheese, and pineapple)
    *purple (grape jello with pineapple and blueberries with a cream-cheese based topping)
    *red (strawberry jello with frozen strawberries mixed in, poured on a pretzel crust with a cream-cheese topping).

    My grandma also used to make a cranberry relish with cranberries, orange rind, and pecans…I never liked it because it tasted bitter and weirdly crunchy from the nuts! I think it may have had a jello or thickened orange juice base to help it all gel together.

    Oh and my husband’s family always has a shrimp cocktail platter served on a special pewter plate.

    I haven’t carried any of these over to my own Thanksgiving yet, but this post makes me want to branch out with *something*.

    • Ana D says...

      Wait, Jello comes in grape???????????

    • Veronica says...

      We are a green variety family, and everyone has always lived in Texas. Do you guys put pecans in it, too?

  123. Mary says...

    Growing up, my family had two standard appetizers, both with Ritz crackers as the base. One had a dollop of shrimp salad, made with canned baby shrimp, cream cheese and salsa. The other was a schmear of cream cheese with a single anchovy draped over the top. I oddly miss them both.

    • Emily says...

      My mom would always make shrimp salad for Christmas or New Years but with cocktail sauce added and the Ritz crackers on the side. If she was feeling really fancy that year, she would make a deconstructed version spread out on a crystal serving platter and let us kids arrange the canned baby shrimp.

  124. Meaghan says...

    We spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s family in Michigan. The first holiday i was away from my own family was the year that we got engaged, and i remember being a little sad to be missing my own family’s traditions (my kooky, large family would do the wave – like fans at baseball games- around the table, after saying grace). When i sat down for dinner this first year with my in laws, i kept hearing people ask to “pass the green salad”. When the green salad was passed my way, i laughed so hard to see there was nary a leafy green in the bowl, but a crazy concoction of green jello, cottage cheese and canned pineapple. And i was happy to swap one kooky Thanksgiving tradition for another.

  125. Jessica says...

    My mom has made a 70’s looking star shaped Jello mold forever. It’s red (or cranberry) flavored with little mandarin oranges and cranberries in it. Everyone actually loves it, especially the kids, and it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it!

  126. Coco says...

    Pink Stuff! My mom makes it for EVERY holiday/event/potluck opportunity. It’s raspberry jello powder mixed with a tub of cottage cheese and a tub of cool whip cream.

  127. diana K. says...

    We are Glarkless. My mom and I watch too many cooking shows and our Thanksgiving table usually looks very different from one year to the next. We do like to make our own egg nogg every year, which takes everyone by surprise. It ends up looking like a very fluffy, highly alcoholic foam. So we spoon this thick foam into cups for everyone and watch their faces go “wtf.” Until they try it and relax a little.

  128. Jessica says...

    Definitely a lemon jello made with coolwhip dish and polish sausage/sauerkraut

    Gosh, these idiosyncrasies make the holidays great, don’t though?

  129. Briana Vowels says...

    “Green salad”!! Which for my grandmother was a ring molded lime jello with mashed tinned pears, pea sized cream cheese cubes, and cream. It is a bright and unnatural sea foam green color, has the oddest texture bc of the jello and mashed pears, but is honestly SO GOOD. My grandmother has been gone for 10 years and we still make it. Although now we also make a real green salad in addition to the jello “salad”.

    • Jessica says...

      I love that you keep making it! So sweet.

  130. RL Wilkerson says...

    We have a jello salad called “Mom’s Forgotten Thanksgiving Jello Salad,” and honestly, I love it. It’s cranberry jello with…sour cream, celery and pecans and cranberry sauce and orange? It should not be delicious, but it really is. I think it’s Forgotten because none of us can remember where it came from. It’s not my mom’s recipe or either of my grandmother’s…but we’ve never had a holiday without it.

  131. Madie says...

    Since the Midwest is definitely represented here with all things Jell-O and Marshmallow, I’ll weigh in here with our San Francisco Bay Area family tradition of Dungeness Crab Louie salads for an appetizer, before the turkey, stuffing, and everything else. November means Crab Season, and that sweet crab meat (lovingly cracked by me, because I’m the fastest and the best ;) is synonymous with Fall and Family!

    • E says...

      Yes! We always had crab the night before Thanksgiving in my Palo Alto childhood house. Just steamed in a huge pot and served with melted butter and lemon. She who cracks the fastest (me) gets the most crab! But then we did have my grandmother’s green jello “salad” (thanks, Ohio) for Thanksgiving dinner, too.

  132. Elizabeth says...

    My parents always served a “fruit salad” of canned pineapple, canned mandarine oranges, maraschino cherries, sliced bananas, marshmallows and cool whip. Thankfully, this recipe has been retired.

    • jenny says...

      Oh my gosh! We had this too! (My parents still do.) I haven’t heard anyone else every mention this salad. lol I don’t really miss it.

    • Christine says...

      Yes!! We have that too!! Except instead of cool whip ours is made with sour cream (seriously). I actually really like it.

    • Maire says...

      THIS. And I love it so hard!

    • Lauren says...

      Yes! We have this and refer to it as “Heavenly Hash” :) it truly is.

  133. Ha! My family is from West PA too – Uniontown area. That said, every year we have had cream cheese (JUST CREAM CHEESE) inside celery. It was always served on my mom’s Anchor Hocking Crystal-cut divided plate along side pickle spears and a can of black olives.

    • Tara says...

      We had this too! This exact same platter! But I never thought it was weird until now, ha.

    • Cynthia Francois says...

      Same here , but lightly sprinkled with paprika and cut into about 2 bite pc’s . Yummy

    • E says...

      We had this same platter, but our celery didn’t have cream cheese and the pickles were the sliced “bread and butter” kind instead of the dill pickles we all liked the rest of the year.

    • Karen says...

      We had the celery with paprika. My husband’s family puts piccalilli on their butternut squash. They also served a ‘salad’. It didn’t have a name. They just called it pistachio pudding with cool whip and pineapple, as in, “please pass the pistachio pudding with cool whip and pineapple”. I called it soylent green.

  134. Kajsa says...

    I’m Norwegian/Sami and I’m immensely fascinated by these dishes! I’ve read through so many and cannot imagine what they taste or look like. Tell me more!

    • Stephanie says...

      Not my family, but my mother-in-law’s family has tomato aspic at Thanksgiving. If tomato soup in jello form isn’t off-putting enough, they serve it with mayonnaise. The funniest part to me is that only a couple of people eat it consistently, and yet it would never be made in a smaller mold-let alone left off the table. Luckily for me, my husband is not one of aspic eaters so it won’t be something we bring to our family’s traditions.
      On a separate note, they have a Christmas Eve dinner every year and always serve male cookies and lady fingers. My personal theory is they do this so they can tell the story about how my husband’s great-grandmother insisted they be kept separated for decorum!
      As someone who comes from a family where traditions are mostly eschewed, I honestly love these quirky threads that run through their family. Hopefully, my insistence of Senior Citizen Salad (aka Watergate salad) at Easter will be something our kids view in the same way.

    • Simone says...

      Are male cookies ones with nuts?

  135. Audra says...

    Sausages in grape jelly. (sliced polish sausage) My uncle introduced us to the dish in the early 90s after my papa passed away and the family was trying to reinvent thanksgiving. It seems more normal now that people cook cocktail weenies in jelly and bbq (or is that a hoosier thing, too?!) but at the time my friends all thought we were weirdos.

    • diana K. says...

      I cannot relate to anything you just wrote- lol, must be a hoosier thing.

    • Kelly says...

      my frozen meatballs in jelly and bbq (or chili sauce, whatever you can grab) in the slow cooker has been floating around my family for a long time (and is always a huge hit at parties, college kids listen up it’s so easy and your friends will die!)

    • Maire says...

      Hoosier here and yep- the cocktail weenies in jelly and bbq is a party tradition. As well as “queso”- which is a can of Rotel + melted Velveeta.

  136. Nora says...

    Leave it to us Midwesterners to call anything a ‘salad’ – and make it so unhealthy – haha! Pretzel jello salad, and Snicker apple salad were hits growing up. Snicker bars, granny smith apples, Cool Whip, and pudding powder, I believe??!

    • J says...

      Ugh the mention of snicker salad is bringing back horrible memories.

    • Kari says...

      I was waiting for someone to bring up snicker salad. My grandma always brings it and unlike most of these jello ‘salads’, it’s actually kinda awesome.
      My glark is my mom’s pistachio salad (canned pineapple, pistachio pudding, marshmallows, and cool whip) which I don’t actually like very much but would miss if it was gone.

  137. Brandy says...

    Oh my goodness! I love this topic. We have what has been termed by my dad as “green shit.” Growing up my Grandmother always made Watergate salad for Thanksgiving and brought it each and every year. I remember only liking the pistachio pudding and picking out all the mini marshmellows but I loved that it reminded me of my grandmother. So now each year I host Thanksgiving and make the “green shit”! It’s my own version which is mainly pistachio pudding, cool whip and mini marshmellows with a few pineapple bits in it. Only a few people eat it, but I take absolutely no offense and will continue to make it each and every year.

    • Jules says...

      This! I love it!

    • Olivia says...

      My aunt makes a version of this and it is what makes Thanksgiving feel like Thanksgiving to me! I can’t wait to eat it in a few weeks.

    • Karen says...

      I call it soylent green. My sister-in-law makes it.

  138. Morgan says...

    My husband grew up in rural Alberta and his mom has always made Skor Bar Salad for every holiday. It is a tub of cool whip filled with chopped up skor and snickers bars and tons of tiny cute of super sour Granny Smith apples and it is served with the turkey! So funny and sooooo delicious.

  139. Kelsey says...

    Cinnamon rolls! It’s apparently a tradition that stems from my paternal grandmother, but my mom’s side of the family and various guests throughout the years have happily embraced eating a delicious, homemade cinnamon roll alongside turkey and stuffing.

  140. shelley says...

    My parents often add in king crab legs. Very odd looks when I tell people this! And my in laws have two or three of these jello salad things. A fluffy orange mousse one, a cranberry and raspberry one with nuts and sour cream, and a fluffy green one with marshmallows and pineapples. I love all of it haha. Never occurred to me that these were on the table because we are from Michigan.

  141. Lauren E. says...

    Pepperoni dip! Chop up a stick of pepperoni into 1/4 inch chunks, mix with a tub of sour cream, and let it sit overnight in the fridge. The next day, take it out about 1/2 an hour before serving. Dip Ritz crackers. Marvel at how something so gross could be so freaking delicious.

  142. Leslie says...

    Is anyone else a little concerned about the recipes that ladies magazines were publishing in our grandmothers’ generation?? And the lasting effect they had on our diets? Good heavens, someone write a dissertation on this already!

    • Abbey says...

      This has been done! It’s called Something from the Over: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America, by Laura Shapiro. FASCINATING.

  143. Sasha L says...

    I am about to yuck the yum. Proceed with caution.

    Oh man. I love the idea of Thanksgiving, being grateful, coming together, a family day. But I hated the actuality. I’ve been vegetarian since 15, but really in my heart, since I can remember. The giant dead bird on the table. The giant bowl of gravy made out of the bird insides, which my whole family would fight over (literally, my brothers would hurt each other over the gizzard). And then all the other foods, absolutely none of which I like (and I swear I’m not picky). Hate pumpkin pie. Hate yams cooked into oblivion with sugar. Hate stuffing. Ew. HATE Jello, and not vegetarian. Hate canned olives. Hate mashed potatoes (@least how my mom makes them). Cranberries, yep, hate. Green bean casserole is so yuck I can’t even.

    After my kids were born we would trek three hours on icy roads through blizzards to not eat the dinner that my mom spent two days cooking. After several years of watching my little girls eat dinner rolls for dinner I called enough. We stopped going and started staying home and eating Korean food or something else fun that we all like. I’m grateful for reclaiming Thanksgiving 😉 Bring on the kimchi, gojuchang and Kim’s Convenience Store Marathon.

    • You didn’t yuck the yum! You brought the “A Christmas Story” ending to Thanksgiving. Get your grateful on!

    • BeckyB says...

      YES! Another vegetarian here, raising vegetarian kids and I’m passionate about reclaiming Thanksgiving, too! I’m on board with making fancy, seasonal fare, and I am 1000% committed to making a delicious meal we can all enjoy. I don’t care if there are different dishes every year. I want my kids to remember a tradition of delicious, seasonally inspired food, that feels a little extra, served with giant helpings of love and gratitude.

    • E says...

      Thank you! We’re not vegetarians, but my immediate family *hates* Thanksgiving food (with the exception of my mom’s outstanding homemade cranberry sauce…that stuff is ridiculously good over ice cream). It’s all so fat-laden and you just feel gross for days afterward. For years, we would get together with our extended family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas to eat basically the same meal twice – and none of us ever said how much we hated it! Not even my sweet mom who made the entire meal by herself every year. Probably a decade ago, it came out that we all hated Thanksgiving food and we just decided to stop eating it. (Our extended family was sort of mad because they had to make their own meal after that.) On Thanksgiving, we eat grilled lamb chops, wasabi mashed potatoes, and bacon-y brussel sprouts. On Christmas, we tend to experiment with something we’ve been dying to make.

      We do have a family glark though – it’s just called “jello salad” and we only eat it with a casserole my mom has been making for decades called “Chicken Divan.” Both of these things are disgusting on paper (two layers of strawberry jello with pecans and pineapple mixed in sandwiching a layer of sour cream and chicken with rice and some unknown cream of something soup and egg noodles) but they are absolutely delicious. My sisters and I will have a fistfight over who gets the last slice of jello salad!

  144. Elizabeth says...

    Here in Utah, we have sort of an inferiority complex about the fact that we eat jello. Lots and lots of jello! For some reason, Utah food snobs are particularly squeamish about green jello, but the green jello pin was the highest priced pin when Salt Lake hosted the 2002 Olympics. It seems to strike a nerve….

    So I am very happy to learn that the dietary habits of Utahans are not to gauche after all and that jello makes an appearance at Thanksgiving across the country. If you like it, bring it on!

    • Angela says...

      Hahaha Elizabeth! As a Midwesterner I was totally going to blame the jello on Utahans ( and Mormons all over the US). I’ve not seen much Jello, other than Jello Chocolate Cook n Serve pudding pie on my family’s Hoosier/Kentuckian holiday tables.

    • Julie says...

      Hear hear, from another Utahn! Favorite jello “salad” that I didn’t grow up eating, but my father-in-law introduced me to: Raspberry pretzel jello salad. Nothing more delicious. Bottom “crust” is pretzels with butter and sugar, then a layer of raspberry jello with raspberries mixed in, and then a cream cheese/cool whip topping. SoOooOooooOoo good. I will say I have a hard time even looking at my grandma’s diet orange jello with canned mandarin oranges/carrots creation. Shudder.

  145. Jessica says...

    My mom always makes “orange stuff.” It divides the family right down the middle (I’m on the I love it side).

    1 pack of orange jello powder (not “cooked” just the powder) mixed with 1 tub of cool whip, 1 tub of cottage cheese, and 1 can of mandarin oranges

    It is so strange, but so delightful

    • My mother-in-law makes ‘Pink Salad’ which is the EXACT same thing, except it’s strawberry jello and sliced strawberries. I was kind of horrified when I was first introduced it, but have since grown to love it. The weird cottage cheese chunks make it, for some reason :)

    • Susanne says...

      We call it Orange Fluff. My kids love this!

  146. sara says...

    sushi! One of my uncles was stationed in Japan where he met his wife. Growing up, every year, she would make sushi and it would sit next to the turkey. I can’t remember anyone in my family liking sushi then or now, so I’m afraid her efforts went to waste most years.

    • Jenna says...

      Sushi has been at my Thanksgiving my entire life (and I love it!). Me and my dad spent the morning cutting vegetables, fanning rice, and rolling. Everyone looks at us weird when we arrive with it, but there is never a single roll left :)

    • Kim says...

      Homemade sushi made by a Japanese woman? What a treat! Most of us have to go to a restaurant to get sushi. I’d take that over turkey any day!

  147. Jessica says...

    I’m honestly now inspired to bring my own ‘Glark’ this year and start a ‘what the?!’ tradition! Jello based sounds perfect, nice and light compared to all of the heavy desserts after a heavy meal. I’m now on a mission for a good jello recipe.

    Our current ‘Glark’ situation isn’t a ‘what the heck is that??’ but it’s a tradition that nobody will let my mother do without. She makes chicken liver mousse pate for an appetizer. It’s my Grandmothers recipe from ages ago and it’s delectable!

    • Beth says...

      To go the opposite direction, one year I made sweet potato, quinoa, and kale fritters but passed it off to my Jell-O-salad-loving family as “fried stuffing” and they loved it. 😂