Campbell’s has released its landmark “State of the Sides” report for 2022, in which it breaks down “consumer data pulled from a nationwide survey” to tell us all about the company’s—and America’s—favorite aspect of Thanksgiving: the side dishes.
Among its many findings, the report features a map that illustrates our nation’s stark stuffing-versus-mashed-potatoes divide: 22 states prefer mashed potatoes while 27 prefer stuffing. Yes, that only adds up to 49 states. That’s because, per the map, Massachusetts “is the only state that is evenly split on the debate of mashed potatoes versus stuffing.”
Was the state’s vote really split, or did the state just refuse to answer the question? Massachusetts answers to no one.
According to the map, you’re more likely to hear stuffing referred to as “dressing” in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana. It may be worth noting that, separate of this survey, some cite a technical difference between stuffing and dressing, saying stuffing is cooked inside the bird whereas dressing is cooked outside of it. Regionally, though, that distinction might not be widely used. A 2015 survey found that 100% of New Englanders call it stuffing no matter what, whereas the Southern states call it dressing.
According to the Campbell’s survey, stuffing (or dressing) is the top Thanksgiving side dish in the nation, followed by mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and mac and cheese, the latter of which I’ve never eaten at Thanksgiving and might just add to my menu right now.
People in Arkansas, Alaska, and Idaho don’t like it when their sides touch each other on the plate—which means they are missing out on the surprise goodness of getting a little cranberry sauce and gravy on their green beans. Campbell’s created an entire plate to cater to these sides-mingling-naysayers, but I’ll pass.
As is well established at this point, in light of inflation and shrinkflation, people are being strategic about their grocery shopping choices this year. It’s no surprise, then, that some people are considering downsizing their Thanksgiving feasts. According to the Campbell’s survey, a little over half of respondents are planning to purchase a smaller turkey this year to save money. There will still be plenty of sides, though, much to Campbell’s glee: 90% of respondents said they’ll make the same amount of sides or more this year.
As for what sides Massachusetts is making, we’ll probably never know. They aren’t about to talk.