What Was Thanksgiving Like on an Aircraft Carrier in 1944?

New York’s USS Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum can answer that
Dan Myers

When you’re at war, even the smallest reminder of home can be a great morale booster. And when the major holidays roll around and you’re somewhere far from your family, it can be incredibly depressing.

For those stationed on board the USS Intrepid, a WWII-era aircraft carrier that’s now docked at a pier on the west side of Manhattan, they got a little taste of home during Thanksgiving of 1944. For the holiday, a special menu was devised by the kitchen staff and served to the 3,000 servicemen that were stationed onboard.

We had the opportunity to visit the ship earlier this week, and learned some pretty amazing facts about onboard eating. Every day, the kitchen team had to prepare a lot of food. They went through 700 loaves of bread, 500 dozen eggs, 1,500 chickens, 1,500 pounds of potatoes, 3,000 steaks, and 5,000 pints of milk on your average day at sea, so devising, sourcing, and preparing this special menu, which was on display, must have involved a ton of work. We’re sure it was worth it, though, and it looks pretty outrageous.

Mixed olives, sweet pickles, fruit cocktail, and cream of asparagus soup were served for starters, followed by a main course of roast Princess Ann turkey (which was served at military Thanksgivings dating back at least as far as 1917), baked Virginia ham, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, celery apple nut dressing, candied yams, and snowflake potatoes (mashed potatoes mixed with sour cream, cream cheese, and spices). Additional side dishes included buttered peas, corn, carrot and raisin salad, and sweet mayonnaise dressing. For dessert, there was plum pudding, vanilla sauce, and apple pie à la mode, with iced orangeade and coffee to drink. And to cap off a veritable feast, cigars.

That’s a surprisingly sumptuous feast!


For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal's Ultimate Guide to Thanksgiving!