The History of America’s Favorite Thanksgiving Brands

Couple Pulling On Wishbone
Vintage illustration of a husband and wife pulling the wishbone of a turkey for good luck at Thanksgiving dinner; screen print, 1942. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)
Photograph by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

There’s no question that Americans’ eating habits are changing. But when it comes to Thanksgiving, consumers are still rooted in tradition. We’re not only eating the same dishes that we’ve been eating for decades, but we’re also making them with same brands. Fortune took a look at the history and business behind the iconic products that make up the classic Thanksgiving menu.

Butterball Turkey

Butterball advertisement from 1974.Courtesy of Butterball
Since 1981 Butterball has operated a Turkey Talk-Line that answers all turkey-related questions. The Talk-Line staff members, who have an average tenure of 15 years, are expected to talk to more than 10,000 people on Thanksgiving Day alone.

Libby’s canned pumpkin

A field near Morton, Illinois, where Libby’s Select pumpkins were ready to harvest.Courtesy of Libby’s
Because of heavy rain during the critical growing months for pumpkins, Libby’s crop yield was reduced by half this year. The company has no reserve stock to carry it into next year so once it ships the remainder of the 2015 harvest, Libby’s will be without canned pumpkin until the 2016 harvest.

Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce

Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Juice Cocktail.Courtesy of Ocean Spray
Ocean Spray sells 72 million cans of cranberry sauce between September and December. That means about 80% of the company’s total sauce business occurs during the holidays. It takes Ocean Spray about 200 cranberries to make every can of sauce.

Jet-Puffed Marshmallows

0140 marshmallow_1958ARJet-Puffed Marshmallows from 1958.Courtesy of Kraft Heinz Company
Nearly 40% of all Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, the No.1 national marshmallow brand, are consumed in the fourth quarter, driven by Thanksgiving and the holidays. Sweet potato and yam dishes are the top use of marshmallows during the season.

Bruce’s Yams

15_oz-Bruce's-Cut-Sweet-PotatoCourtesy of
Bruce’s Yams, which make up 50% of the canned sweet potato market, sees a 10-fold increase in sales in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and a five-fold increase before Christmas. McCall Farms, which owns the Bruce’s Yams brand, moved all sweet potato production to South Carolina in 2015.

Pepperidge Farm Stuffing

Pepperidge Farm founder, Margaret Rudkin, sorts the ingredients to make her homemade stuffing recipe.Courtesy of Campbell Soup Company
Americans say stuffing is one of the top three “must haves” on the Thanksgiving table (the other two are turkey and mashed potatoes). No surprise then that 60% of Pepperidge Farm Stuffing sales take place during the holiday.

Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

A Campbell’s print ad from 1995 showcasing the classic Green Bean Casserole recipe featuring Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup.Courtesy of Campbell Soup Company
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the green casserole, which was created by Dorcas Reilly—the head of Campbell Soup’s home economics department. As a key ingredient in the casserole, Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup experiences 40% of its sales in November and December.

French Fried Onions

portrait-ffo2_6oz_or_sw_usCourtesy of French’s French’ Fried Onions
Tens of millions of green bean casseroles are served during the holiday season. That’s why French’s French Fried Onions, a core ingredient to the holiday classic, was ranked third of all branded edible items the week of Thanksgiving in 2014, according to data provider IRI. (Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce was fourth.) The brand’s French fried onions brought in nearly $14 million in sales the week of Thanksgiving, with total sales in a three-week span of the holiday coming in at $30 million.

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