Thanksgiving: It Wasn’t Always Turkey


Looks like it's time for another turkey art project.

About this time of year, our children come home from school and show off their creative art projects depicting the ever popular turkey.  Alas, if not for a fateful Fall evening in 1564 they might just be depicting a duck instead.  Now, for most of us, Thanksgiving is a time of family gathering whose sole purpose is to stuff our mouths and bellies to the gill.  Yet what isn’t well known among human folk is that the holiday has an entirely different history than that silly old Pilgrim story taught in our schools.  Fortunately, as the pre-eminent duck historian on the planet (as well as your sleuth for uncovering all things marginally relevant to our time), I can now tell you the almost partially true if not slightly less than patently false tale of Thanksgiving.  However, I must warn you, it isn’t pretty…


The Real Story Of Thanksgiving


So it came to pass that in our year of the duck 1564 A.D. (coincidentally also known as our year of the Lord, same bat time, same bat station), the USA was a virtual wilderness and mostly populated by wild creatures—think bears, deer and giant man-eating rabbits.  Oh, to be sure you might chance upon a few Native Americans frolicking au natural through the trees.  However, what later became known as “America The Beautiful” was at the time a continent largely untainted by the presence of humans.  This then, is the actual background against which the original “Thanksgiving” took place—a holiday born by the wanton greed and desires of a select few rhythmically inclined critters who literally fed off the rest.  (Note to reader:  This is a good time to put on some really scary music.)



Yes, it was a time of shocking barbarity and that meant social ignorance and brutality often manifested itself in the form of gang rivalry.  (Now, bring up the sad music.) One depressed soul, a duck by the name of Nathaniel P. Noodlebill, was actually the first of his kind to experience the injustice of the times.  Besides being pathetically poor, Nathaniel, had major three strikes against him:  First off was his tendency to be twitter-challenged (in those days we’d say he had a lisp), second was his preference to wear effeminate attire (not entirely unusual at the time since men of society wore wigs, make-up, lace and high heels), and third, was the simple fact he had just flown in from Canada.  Of course, the last reason really set his fate for as a hockey loving newbie to the area, poor Nathaniel had no friends, and thus, no gang to offer protection.  This might make more sense to the reader if you understand the locals (in spite of their gang backgrounds) were hardcore lawn bowling fanatics who despised the brute violence of hockey.  And if that still doesn’t make sense, don’t worry, because it makes sense to yours truly in a sort of esoteric, Pavlovian, symbiotic, vertically-challenged, pink butterflies on the curtains manner.  Oh, let’s move on, shall we?


One late November day, after the last of the summer’s harvest had been tucked away by the various gang fat-cats in the area, Nathaniel was out begging for food.  As it would happen, a rapping gangsta band of merry wanderers suddenly surrounded him and in no uncertain terms “suggested” he join them for dinner.  Now, rather than fear it, Nathaniel was beside himself with joy.  To share food—any kind of food—after weeks of near starvation gave promise of better times to come.  However, he was even more touched when the group presented him with a brand new pair of lace booties.  This he felt was a sure sign of his ultimate acceptance into the local culture.  Little did he realize that his fate—what is arguably an international hate crime of historic proportions—would set the course for each and every Thanksgiving that followed.


The evening all started innocently enough and went something like this…


Look's like it's time for a harvest feast.

The Last Duck Dinner (Click to enlarge)


Sadly, for Nathaniel there was far too much going on in life he never understood.


Some duck needs an education.

Not exactly an imbecile, Nathaniel was still about as clueless as they come.


Here’s how the merry gang of gangsta rappers saw things.


Looks like somebody can't stop laughing.

There seems little doubt this end of the table got a head start on the hooch.


And this just goes to show you can’t take a beaver anywhere.


I like the beat-boxing birds.

Got to love that rapping beat.


Yes, indeed.  It was quite a motley crew that gathered for that first Thanksgiving feast…


Time to start cooking dinner.

Yes, we can only wish these gang memebers had grown up in loving homes and received some bare minimum of sensitivity training. Alas, it was not to be.


This isn’t to say the group was entirely lacking of class.  In fact, at least one notable at the table had studied at the ever famous Le Cordon Blue cooking school in Paris.


When I grow up I want to be chef.

Eat your heart out Martha Stewart!


Yet as you’ve undoubtedly guessed, poor Nathaniel’s lot had already been cast…


It seems a near certainty that duck would still be our first choice for a Thanksgiving meal if that button hadn’t popped out early.


Fortunately, for all ducks of future generations who might have befallen Nathaniel’s fate, the button mechanism our gangsta rappers relied upon to signify the duck was cooked to perfection turned out to be defective.  This meant the meat was undercooked and several members of the party came down with a severe case of salmonella—yes, even though no salmon were present there was something fishy going on here.  And of those who actually lived to rap about it, the word was quickly spread:  “Harry, Pete, and crazy old Dick, ate that duck and got real sick…boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp.”


At this point, our dear readers may be asking why they call it Thanksgiving given the outcome of that first disastrous feast.  Go ahead, I dare you.  Okay, here it is:  The ducks are ever thankful that poor Nathaniel gave his life so that no other little ducklings might not suffer as he did.  Yes, I realize this sort of skips over the whole food poisoning thing, but who am I to argue? As to the turkeys—you have to understand they are simply too stupid and egotistical to care about something as mundane as mass annihilation.  Right or wrong, they’re thrilled to have all the attention, even if it is for only one day a year.  Lastly, and this should come as no surprise, we humans are ever thankful for any meal that achieves a self-perpetuating state of wanton gluttony.  Mind passing the stuffing…oh, and a few more of those cheesy beans?  (Okay, bring up the nap time music.)


Viva le duck, you poor turkey!


If you enjoyed this post, you may want check out our
Famous Ducks Of History series.


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