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Cranberry sauce: A must-have holiday tradition

cranberry sauce - Hannah Anderson

Illustration: Hannah Anderson/The Olaf Messenger

Oh, cranberry sauce, what a unique invention created by man. For those who have never seen cranberry sauce before, think of it like a gelatinized version of cranberry juice. Some critics even call it “fake Jell-O.” Cranberry sauce has become a hot topic at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner tables. Some people are disturbed by the jiggle in what should be a normal fruit, but others find the sensory experience to be quite fun. I am the latter.

I see cranberry sauce as a special dish only to be enjoyed around the holiday season. I enjoy its inherently strange texture, which is ironic coming from me since I am normally very particular about textures in foods.

Furthermore, I love the flavor of cranberry sauce. It is both sweet and tart at the same time while having a distinct flavor and texture from other traditional Thanksgiving foods. I also feel extremely healthy when eating it — it feels as if I am consuming my daily serving of fruits, even though each can comes packed with sugar to make the taste more tolerable. 

Many cranberry sauce critics wonder if there is even a market for cranberry sauce anymore or if people still eat it. From my personal experience, there are plenty of people who still enjoy cranberry sauce’s unique qualities. My family always has it at holiday dinners, plopped straight onto a small plate so you can still see the ridges from the aluminum can on the sauce itself. This makes for a fun and aesthetically pleasing first scoop into the sauce. Plenty of my family members partake in eating the delicious cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner; sometimes I don’t even get seconds. Cranberry sauce is one of my favorite side dishes at holiday dinners. I weirdly look forward to it because it is such a special seasonal thing for me and my family. 

I will say that I do find it weird if people eat cranberry sauce at times outside the holiday season — for me, cranberry sauce is strictly a November and December commodity. So, if you are a cranberry sauce critic and are asking if it truly deserves a place at the Thanksgiving table, here is my answer to you: of course! This quirky tradition of cranberry “Jell-O” is still alive and well, and it’s enjoyed by many. If you have never tried it, I encourage you to give it a chance! Maybe it will become a staple in your holiday meals.

Paige Ewert is from Minneapolis. Her majors are art history and history.