The Ten Manliest Thanksgiving Dishes

Last week we brought you a list of the of the manliest candies — those sweets that prove the presence of cojones of some sort or another. In honor of the most grateful day in American culture, we now present readers with a Thanksgiving edition. (You’re welcome.) To serve your family the manliest Thanksgiving dinner possible, feel free to use this list as a complete menu. What you wear to said dinner is up to you — although if visible chest hair isn’t part of the ensemble, you’re doing it wrong.
10) Deep-Fried Turkey
You might have assumed that Turducken would be the main dish on this list, but no, sorry to disappoint you legions of triple-threat poultry advocates. Deep-fried turkey is the manliest turkey option because of the inherent danger in its preparation. Do you risk burning down your house by cooking a turducken? You do not, sir. But you do when you drop a 20-pound turkey in that huge vat of hot oil sitting in your driveway. Deep-fried turkey is not only dangerous, it’s an amazing thing to experience. You know you shouldn’t, for many reasons, but you do. Deep-fried turkey is that ex-girlfriend that’s always willing, available, and utterly insane. Will you regret it, when you’re chubby and homeless? For sure. But oh, the immediate gratification.
9) Stuffing
Whatever you do, don’t call it dressing. Don’t put oysters in it, unless you’re physically in Montauk and also a douchebag. Manly stuffing is made directly from the box. It’s dry pieces of cornbread and rehydrated vegetables. It sits on the table, and nobody eats it — you know, because it’s dry pieces of cornbread and rehydrated vegetables. It’s like that pipe snake that you keep in the garage: it’s there, and you want it to be there, but you’re also fine with it just sitting untouched, because you really don’t want to have to use the thing.
8) Yams
Not sweet potatoes. Fucking yams. Just the single-syllabic nature of this root vegetable makes it the macho choice for starchy goodness on the table. And forget all the prissy shit that you might think you need to dress it up with, by the way. Yams don’t abide any marshmallows, and you can keep your brown sugar in your bowl there, princess. No need for anything extra, really. Yams have the situation fully under control.

7) Corn on the Cob
While the corn is delicious, it’s the cob here that’s vital. We can dispense with clear opportunity for phallic-references, because really, we don’t need dick jokes to sell the cob part of the corn. Any vegetable that comes with its own carrying case already has a leg up on the competition (we’re looking at you, broccoli — go back to trying to look like a tree and get off our plates). But the cob is insanely important — you can save it, dry it, and turn it into anything from a pipe to a prison-yard shiv. And any vegetable that can become a weapon with which to defend yourself, and then provide you with a medium for a little post-ass-kicking smoke? That’s a vegetable dish you want on your side in a fight.
6) Grilled Brussels Sprouts
Clearly, any food you can grill automatically ups its manliness factor. Bonus points because your guests won’t be expecting you to brush the snow off the ol’ Char-broil, and you can take this opportunity to inform them that roasting pans are for lame Bobby Flay wannabes. More importantly, Brussels sprouts look like full heads of lettuce, and because they’re so tiny, eating them whole makes a guy feel like a giant, popping cabbages into their mouths like grapes. And there’s nothing more manly than things that make men feel larger than they are.

5) Canned Jellied Cranberry Sauce
You know the kind: the stuff that comes out of the can still in the shape of the can. Yeah, jelly itself might not be the manliest stuff on the earth, but let’s face it, cranberries are pretty much mandatory for Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s the only time cranberries really get the spotlight. You know what is manly, though? Giving in once in a while and being flat-out honest about things. So open up that can, listen for the long wet slurp of the cylinder of cran-jelly releasing its hold, and set that shit out on the table. Don’t mix anything in; don’t try to fool anyone. It’s a log of cranberry gelatin. It is what it is. Let it soak up its one day of the year when the automatic answer to “would you like some cranberry sauce” isn’t “Why the fuck would I want some cranberry sauce?”

4) Rolls
No, not crescent rolls, Poppinfresh. Actual rolls. Heavy, steaming bread products that you can slather with butter or use to make little mini-turkey sandwiches (because let’s face it, the leftover turkey sandwich is by far better than the original meal). Rolls are the sorts of things that you avoid early in the lines at Vegas buffets because they’re trying to fill your plate and your stomach before you get to that dish of peel-and-eat shrimp. But at Thanksgiving? Give in to the lure of the bread. Because men can take on the challenge. Because men have to bulldoze our plates of all the delicious detritus — and have to use something to sop up the gravy. And speaking of gravy…

3) Gravy
Gravy is pure manliness. Nothing but grease and flour and salt. It’s like back in World War II, when your forefathers were grunting their way through Europe or the Pacific theater, and they didn’t have much to eat, and sometimes they just ate lard and salt sandwiches. Do you know what another name for lard and salt sandwiches could be? Sliced gravy. Because it’s the same stuff: grease, salt, flour. And if it was good enough for the Greatest Generation, good enough for the boys overseas who put it all on the line to take out Hitler and Hirohito and any doubt that someday in the far future, we’d have the History Channel? Good enough for any man alive.
2) Deviled Eggs
If you have any reason to doubt that eating copious numbers of eggs isn’t manly, I refer you to the film Cool Hand Luke. ‘Nuff said.

1) Mincemeat Pie
Sure, pie choices are normally going to be pumpkin or pecan. But you’re going to want to go off the board and select mincemeat. Originally, mincemeat pies were literally minced meats — usually mutton or beef — combined with suet, spices and dried fruits and baked into a pie. Over the years, the manly-deficient have excised the meat from the traditional pie, leaving only the spices and fruits, but that’s because they were scared. Scared of the meat. Men are unafraid of anything, including meat-based desserts. It’s the Joey Tribbiani rule: what’s not to like? Meat goooood. After all, meat is that which any manly meal begins…and it’s where it should end.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen