Why Thanksgiving Turkey Tastes Better the Next Day, And Why It Matters

Ever notice that the Thanksgiving turkey tastes better the next day and the days after? Millions of people look forward to Friday lunches, and Saturday dinners of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup and turkey (or tofu) concoctions.  Yet last Tuesday’s chicken dish doesn’t taste so good warmed up the next day. And making a steak sandwich from the night before’s London Broil dinner just doesn’t sound so appealing.

So what is it about Thanksgiving leftovers? Why do we look so forward to the leftovers and what does it tell us about ourselves? I had some time to think about this over the break – after a Friday lunch of turkey, pumpkin bread and green bean casserole that tasted so much better than the Thanksgiving feast.  I came to the conclusion – after polling absolutely no relatives, friends or industry experts – that this post-Thanksgiving Day halo effect on our senses occurs because we are relieved. The anticipation of a day revolved around socializing, eating, socializing, eating (repeat 2 more times) has finally subsided.  You are no longer tied to Emily Post’s rules of etiquette. Those bitter cranberries Aunt Mary prepared? You can leave them off your plate this time, and fill up on what you want. You are most likely eating leftovers alone (in much-need silence) or with the short list of people who dine with you on days other than Thanksgiving.

As humans, we love our get-togethers, the traditions large and small, the awkward family moments and the great memories made over food and conversation.  The day after any big event – whether it’s Thanksgiving, a religious holiday, a major speech you’re giving, or a business conference for which you planned a year in advance – everything tastes better. Have you noticed that?  Savor the “day of,” but appreciate the days after.

– Diane Schwartz

On Twitter: @dianeschwartz