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One-Hour Thanksgiving Dinner

A one-hour Thanksgiving dinner is the practice of using convenience foods to prepare a complete Thanksgiving dinner, as depicted in Norman Rockwell's 1943 Freedom From Want Thanksgiving dinner depiction, in one hour of time for a small family or group of 4-8 people, assuming the turkey breast is thawed. The use of readily off the shelf items commonly found in U.S. supermarkets allows for the meal to not only be prepared in a short time, but at a minimal cost, by someone who is not familiar with cooking.


The consumerization, commodification, de-localization, and acculturation of foods in North American society has been ongoing since the 1950s. The result is that most Americans, especially youths, rely almost entirely on convenience foods.

The development of convenience foods incorporated into the North American diet and supermarket shelves became so wide spread that by the late 1990s they could be used to convincingly replace entirely the Thanksgiving dinner. Most Americans do incorporate convenience foods to some degree, but typically do not create the entire meal from them.

Costs and implications

Convenience foods have become so entrenched and available in North America that entire feasts can be prepared from them. Thanksgiving, the quintessential American "banquet" meal, something that home cooks tend to aspire to, a holiday which is only celebrated officially in the U.S. (4th Thursday in November), Argentina (same as Brazil's since the 1990s), Brazil (same as the U.S. since 1948), Canada (second Monday in October), Japan (Kinro-Kansha-no-hi November 23), Liberia, Switzerland, and Korea (Ch'usok), can be duplicated entirely with prepared foods for about the same cost as two large pizzas. One should note that Thanksgiving is celebrated differently in the Americas than in Asia.

The implications to the American-Macro culture is astounding and indicates an even greater reliance of the culture on convenience foods and is hard for many to take. Even more astounding is that in many urban areas some families will rely completely on fast food–in 2003 at least one national fast food chain was selling deep fried whole turkey in November, or use even easier to prepare convenience foods such as TV dinners for Thanksgiving dinners.

Modern U.S. young adults, especially college students who for various reasons can not travel home for the holiday, typically are not familiar with cooking their own food as a result of fast food restaurants and convince foods. Young adults, separated by distance from their extended families, in the US may be tempted into purchasing expensive precooked Thanksgiving dinners or going to restaurants such as Denny’s on Thanksgiving, both further signs of dependence on the food processing and restaurant industries. Convenience foods created the situation and can be used to correct this to some extent by creating the image of a home-cooked meal, which normally would take hours to prepare. Inexpensive frozen pre-cooked whole turkey breasts became widely available in the late 1990s allowing a Thanksgiving dinner consisting completely of convenience food.

As of 2003, the cost of such a dinner is about $20, less money than it takes to feed the same amount of people pizza. Likewise if the same number of people would go to a Denny's restaurant on Thanksgiving it would cost more than preparing this.

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