Giving Thanks for the Cranberry -- Our Forgotten Holiday Star

It’s Thanksgiving week and on tables across the country, turkey is set to be the star of the show. It doesn’t matter whether your dinner is free-range, natural-fed, antibiotic-free turkey, Tofurkey or the traditional, tasty Butterball. Every one of those that hits the platter becomes the instant centerpiece.

Pity the lowly cranberry, always a bridesmaid and never a bride.

Forget the stuffing, potatoes or even the pumpkin pie. A great turkey dinner can’t be great without the cranberry in its most contemporary form – jellied. Sure you can get cranberries the old-fashioned way with skin and chunks or even in a bottle mixed with apple or alcohol. But nothing reminds me more of growing up than a can of jellied cranberry sauce.

Jellied cranberry is a true working class delight. It goes well year-round, chilled in the can tucked in the back of a fridge. But come November, it gets it kicks the can and gets its chance to shine.

For one day each year, the can-opener whirs and the tasty cranberry sauce is revealed ready to eat. No cooking, no tampering of any kind is needed. All a good or bad chef needs is a spoon and a bowl. And a with a deft stroke, the cranberry sauce slides out of the can with perfect form – intact, still in the shape that it has resided these months since harvest.

It’s a shape that has served its masters at Ocean Spray well over the years helping them grow and grow and grow their business. Cranberries, stated a company expert on the subject, are “only one of three fruits that are native to North America.” We certainly do go local – eating 86.5 million cans of cranberry sauce from Ocean Spray alone and three-fourths of that is the jellied kind. It’s no wonder we feel stuffed every Thanksgiving. Americans consume 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season. I know I do my part.

According to the publishers of the new book, “The Cranberry: Hard Work and Holiday Sauce,” “American cranberry contains equal amounts of holiday symbolism and antioxidants.”

Even the trusty cranberry becomes a political football, though. Authors Lindy Gifford and Stephen Cole wrote it “working on a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities,” according to The Cap Cod Chronicle.

Still, cranberries are strong enough to survive that little indignity and a big reason to give thanks this holiday.

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum and he can be seen on Foxnews.com’s “Strategy Room.” He can also be contacted on FaceBook and Twitter as dangainor.

Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.