Can Thanksgiving be trendy? Of course!

Most of us think that Thanksgiving dinner is the time for tradition, the meal where we revisit the dishes we only make and eat on this occasion. Mom’s sage and apple stuffing, Grandpa’s favorite Watergate Salad (the one with Jell-O and whipped cream), cranberries in some form or another.

For inspired cooks, however, this holiday is the perfect time to tweak an old favorite or nudge aside a tired classic and replace it with something new. As a trendologist, I’ve been called upon several times this season to share my predications for what food trends we may see on our Thanksgiving menus. Let’s compare notes with my forecast and what is being prepped right now.

Some months ago, I was tapped to find good, hard data to support the Thanksgiving trends the fine food editors at Rachael Ray Everyday suspected would inspire this year’s menu planning. Their hunches were right on: miso, craft cider, turmeric, zucchini spirals and cacio e pepe preparations are indeed trending. Thanks to the many data sources I use in my work, I was able to give them just the facts they needed to round out the “Thanksgiving is Trending” feature in the November 2016 issue.

Now well attuned to pondering how today’s emerging food trends could appear on the holiday table, I suppled several other journalists with my trend theories. At Yahoo, I imagined how the Middle Eastern flavors popularized by Yotem Ottolenghi could up the flavor ante of Thanksgiving favorites and how browned butter and apple cider will find their ways into our baking and cooking.

Dr. Beth Forrest, professor of history at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and I both chimed in about Thanksgiving menus old and new for Forbes. Featured are gorgeous images of historic Thanksgiving menus in the CIA’s impressive menu collection (I see radishes!) along with a few of my predictions about all the “brown” flavors (such as maple syrup and bourbon) that will likely enhance our meal this year.

And if that's all too much “trendy” for you, then take comfort: That good ol’ turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce will most certainly be in your future. That's my final prediction.