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These Wonderfully Horrific Thanksgiving Disaster Stories Will Make You Feel Better About Your Cooking

So there I am, casually trolling the interwebs for a spectacular, knock-my-in-laws’-socks-off pecan pie recipe, when I discover this comment on a Paula Deen Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe:

It brings up so many questions, right? Specifically: what the heck happened that this pie — which otherwise holds a five-star rating with 239 reviews — turned out to be such an epic disaster that Anonymous labeled it “deeply upsetting?” Did it somehow morph into Anonymous’ past relationship? Was the face of a demon revealed in via arrangement of the pecans? Did it spew racist propaganda throughout all of dessert in true Paula Deen fashion?

All Deen jabs aside, the Thanksgiving table looks a lot different than it did twenty years ago, what with the internet and its ability to yield thousands of results for anything you might be searching for. Last week, I was getting a haircut and my stylist (I’m super fancy, yo!) began chatting with me about the twice-baked sweet potatoes with bacon brittle she makes every year. So of course I looked up the recipe when I got home and yup — there it was, along with a stylized photo rendered in glorious RGB on my screen.

How does one sift through all this recipe overload? By reading the comments, of course. Comments sections on recipes are vital to weeding out the good from the bad, the tasty from the bland. Comments sections are where home chefs offer up helpful tweaks and spin tales of food triumphs and failures alike. And, as evidenced, sometimes those failures can be spectacular.

But it’s not just comments sections that the internet so generously gives us. It also gives us the ability to share stories with millions of others out there, via glowing screen and clacking keyboard.

In the spirit of the holiday — and because there’s nothing I’d rather do less than argue about politics around the dinner table, so maybe this can serve as some sort of a distraction or a topic change — I posed a question via AskReddit, asking for users’ most fantastic Thanksgiving kitchen or recipe fails.

User FirstForFun44, spoke of the perils of letting someone into your circle of kitchen trust with unknown cooking abilities:

I let someone else into my kitchen, specifically a friend’s hookup / SO. She just fucked up everything she touched. The green bean casserole was raw, the stuffing was mushy, the bread was under-cooked… Anyways, I don’t trust people but I can’t do it all alone… I trust my mother the most and very few others; when I find a girl who can hang with me in the kitchen and be on my level I’ll get married.

TheDefiniteIntegral’s tale is the perfect combination of family politics and senility:

Grandma forgot that she was going to a niece’s for dinner, and started thawing a bird. Remembered her plans, then decided to cook the bird anyways and bring it.

Might not have been a big deal, except 1) she was losing her faculties so no one knew how long it was in her freezer, how long it sat out before cooking, or if she cooked it enough. 2) The niece decided to have fish, not turkey so it seemed like grandma was passively aggressively stealing her dinner.

All the guests got to choose between offending the host, or offending grandma.

User atworknotworking89 was so emotionally scarred by a burnt turkey that Grandma never got to live it down:

One time my grandmother burnt the turkey. It was disastrous to me as a kid, because I hated crispy food. It was such a huge deal to me that every year for like 5 years, I would hover over my grandma in the kitchen and ask her if she was burning it again.

Poor grandma :( I woulda killed me.

And TupacSchwartzODoyle’s story sounds like it’s straight out of A Christmas Story…which must mean that that dogs ruining holiday dinners isn’t unheard of.

Had Thanksgiving at a cousin’s home. They put the turkey and ham in the dining room while everyone was still milling about talking and watching football.

Unknown noises coming from the dining room soon after revealed 2 cocker spaniels and a boxer on top of the table eating everything !


Of course, I’m not the only one to have asked this question in the history of ever, which is, of course, where the internet comes in handy yet again. (I’m in a thankful mood, can you tell?) A few years back, PBS posed a similar question, which received another nice stream of answers from users with some truly horrific Thanksgiving tales of woe.

User Caddy Jellyby, for example, spins a bloody tale that should serve as ample warning to always remember to remove the turkey thermometer:

Imagine the scene – hours and hours of elaborate cooking, the table is gorgeous, the family is gathered. The turkey is brought out, it is glorious. I begin to carve, steam rises, the slices fall beautifully. My knife hits the meat thermometer which I have somehow neglected to remove. It glances aside and hits my left thumb. Blood, blood, blood. I am rushed to the emergency room. Hours later, I return to the scene. The family has dined. Food and dishes rest exactly where they were at the close of the meal. There is still blood everywhere. It looks as though Lizzy Borden came for the holidays. I love my family, but they are still unforgiven for that.

Neil Montana’s tale of his roommate’s tipsy arrogance is truly spectacular:

My former roommate was the type of guy that always needed to impress. We were having 8 guests, and he really wanted to make a big to-do. He purchased an extra-large, 30# turkey for the event. He also purchased one of those disposable roasting pans made of aluminum foil, the kind with handles on the sides. After several hours of cooking (and multiple glasses of scotch), he opened the oven door to remove the turkey. I could see he was struggling and offered assistance, but he insisted he was fine. The laws of physics disagreed. As he removed the pan (sans the suggested cookie sheet or other recommended supporting device) by the handles, it collapsed inward, spilling the drippings onto the floor and (unfortunately) back into the oven. The resulting fireball was apocalyptic. My roommate lost his hair, eyebrows, and goatee — and also learned three unfortunate lessons.

1. Less is more.

2. Cooking under the influence usually turns out badly.

3. You can never fully remove the evidence of a massive grease fire from the ceiling of your apartment.


And user francine2009’s tale of her mother’s giblet oversight is a mistake that is probably more common than anyone would care to admit:

We usually went to grandma’s for holidays but my mother was a good cook and when she undertook her first hosting of Thanksgiving when I was around 10 years old, everything looked and smelled perfect. The beautifully roasted bird was paraded to the table to applause and the carving commenced. Perfect sliced turkey and spoonfuls of stuffing were passed around the table. If we had one less person sitting at the table, we would not have witnessed the steaming bag of giblets that came out with that last spoonful of stuffing. Poor mom. Took her years to get over it — probably because we still bring it up every year.

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As for me? Luckily I’ve been spared from many kitchen disasters, though my decision to try and brine my turkey this year has been…frustrating and messy. The worst story I can think of is the year my aunt forgot to add sugar to her frozen cranberry dessert. Of course she’s never lived that down. Because that’s what families do on Thanksgiving — we argue at the table, and we also poke fun at each other, because in the end, we love each other. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Now go stuff yourselves silly!

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