Is It Called Stuffing or Dressing?

It starts earlier every year. Halloween is on Sunday, but major retailers like Sears and Target are attempting unprecedented "Black Friday" sales today, almost a month in advance. Yesterday I even caught a commercial for stuffing. Well, it was actually for Swanson's Chicken broth, accusing those who opted for other, MSG-laden brands of "cutting corners" (oh, the horror!). However, the web-only promotion at the end of the ad caught my attention: The Great Stuffing Debate.

Thanksgiving was more delicious when my grandmother was alive, thanks to her legendary stuffing that no one has been able to replicate since. Being an expert doesn't automatically qualify one to teach -- great cooks sometimes find it hard to put their methods onto paper, while the Bree Van De Kamps of the world prefer to keep key ingredients a secret. I'm not sure which was true for my grandmother, but the first time an overambitious aunt (by marriage) insisted she provide the stuffing, eager to debut a new recipe, proved to be the last time. Looking back now, the hostility shown toward the aunt's spicy cornbread concoction seems comical. On the day in question the realization that my grandmother's legendary stuffing was absent incited audible protest and boycotting of the "trendy" imposter on the buffet line. One uncle whined that it didn't feel like Thanksgiving. Seriously.

That's why Swanson's promotional stuffing debate piqued my interest--perhaps we weren't the only bag of nuts with strong opinions on a side dish. The site features a four-minute mockumentary, recipes, and poll questions all devoted to the Thanksgiving staple. New questions and results will be revealed incrementally as Turkey Day nears.

Three featured poll questions for today:

Mushrooms in the stuffing: What side are you on? 38 percent said "Sounds like fun-ghi", while 62 percent answered "Sorry, there's no shroom" What is your stance on fruit? 29 percent think it's a good idea, 71 saypercent "sounds rotten" Do you like some spice in your stuffing? 44 percent like it hot, 56 percent say no way

A few more points to ponder below.

  • Is it called stuffing or dressing?
  • Is your stuffing more meat or more veggie?
  • Are your "stuffed" celebrations fancy or casual?
  • Is "Light Stuffing" sacrilegious?
  • Cooked inside the bird or as a separate dish?

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