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Introduction to 10 Weird Ingredients People Put in Thanksgiving Dressing

Stuffing is a standard part of the holiday meal, but some kitchen daredevils like to try more unique spins on the dish.

© Rick Barrentine/Corbis

Americans eat a lot of turkey; in 2011, the average American ate a little more than 16 pounds (7.3 kilograms) of the bird. About 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms) of that is consumed on Thanksgiving, and the rest shows up on plates of Kentucky Hot Browns and the always-popular turkey club sandwich [source: National Turkey Federation]. And if you want Thanksgiving leftovers, plan to make about 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) of turkey per person. Since they go hand-in-hand, plan for a generous four cups of stuffing as well [source: Butterball].

Or is it dressing?

What you call the dish varies based on where you live. It's fairly common for Southerners to make dressing for their turkey, while Northerners prepare stuffing -- and there's a small part of Pennsylvania where turkeys are stuffed with "filling" [source: Butler]. The stuffing versus dressing (versus filling) debate rages on, and despite it being basically the same dish no matter what you call it, chances are pretty good that what you stuff into your annual Thanksgiving turkey (or prepare on the side) won't be the same recipe as your best friend's or your neighbor's -- or maybe even your own family members'.

People have been stuffing poultry since ancient times -- the Romans and Arabs are both thought to have stuffed birds with mixtures of bread, herbs and spices. Today's stuffings are frequently prepared on the side instead of in the bird to reduce roasting time and avoid uneven cooking. They're often bread- or cornbread-based, but depending on where you're from, you might expect ingredients ranging from oysters to apples to ... pepperoni and cheese? Sometimes, non-traditional ingredients get into the mix; let's talk about how pepperoni and mozzarella ended up in stuffing, and how Miles Standish may or may not have been involved.

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