Eating Badly: A Very Dystopian Thanksgiving Dinner

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A funny thing happens when you compose a list of 40 dystopian settings and rank them by their survivability—you start seeing potential dystopias just about everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Yes, even in the American food landscape.

This certainly isn’t a foreign concept in speculative fiction. We’ve been imagining the grim future of our own dining ever since Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” in 1729, which satirically advocated for the eating of babies to deal with Irish overpopulation and poverty. Hell, we even had a feature dedicated to the dystopian future of food in the November “Future Issue” of Paste Monthly.

And so, with those thoughts fresh in my mind, I thought it might be equal parts fun and horrifying to point the lens of soul-deadening food speculation toward the most American of all meals: Thanksgiving Dinner. The following dishes are what I’m reasonably certain we’ll be eating in 10 or 20 years when we’re living in a post-war corporate-owned theocracy ruled by the gigantic, floating, irradiated head of Donald Trump.


Appetizers

Mozzerella sticks: Mozzerella sticks will be relatively unchanged from their current state, except the cheese will now be made with milk from the most common animal left on Earth: the noble and massive Norway rat, which has thrived among the ruined buildings of the urban American landscape.

Soylent Green: Nothing prepares the palate for a great Thanksgiving feast like the cleansing, aperitif qualities you can find in any slice of SOYLENT GREEN (™).

Entrees

Turkey: After the mass extinction of bald eagles during the Great Avian Purge of 2021, the wily turkey reclaimed its rightful place as the national bird, as Benjamin Franklin supposedly intended. Rather than being fed a diet of scarce and valuable grain and seeds, however, turkeys are now raised exclusively on sliders from the nation’s one remaining fast food chain: White Castle. No longer is White Castle stuffing necessary when the bird itself has been force-fed a continuous stream of sliders until it finally bursts in a shower of gore in one of the numerous harvesting centers that dot the American heartland. The resulting effluvia is then vacuum-sealed into a sack and delivered to the doorstep of every American by the Rationing Committee.

Meatless option: Soylent Green: Nothing solves the vegetarian’s dilemma quite like the sustaining, highly nutritious, definitely-not-made-from-people lifesaver that is SOYLENT GREEN (™).

Side dishes

Beets: You are free to enjoy as many beets as you would like. Even in the polluted hellscape of 2033, there are far more beets than there are people interested in eating beets.

“Green bean” casserole: After the extinction of the string bean, America needed a cheap new legume with “bean” in its name to put in a casserole. The answer: a new offshoot of hydroponic Lima beans, grown deep under the Earth in giant vaults, each the size of a man’s head. Served with a 20-year-old can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, which never goes bad.

Mashed potato bug: I would like to think that this one is self-explanatory.

Dessert

Pumpkin pie: Somewhat difficult to acquire, given the way that irradiated pumpkins became superintelligent in 2025 and conquered the majority of the Pacific Northwest. Still, if your father or sons are part of your local community’s Anti-Gourd Irregulars, they may very well be able to bring home some chunks of enemy pumpkin victoriously slain in defense of American virtue that you can then use to fashion any sort of dessert you wish. Please note: Doing so may also require the additional slaying of a Cinnamon Beetle or Nutmeg Lizard, depending on the state of your pantry and spice rack.

Soylent Green: Nothing hits the spot after a big meal quite like a decadent, rounded scoop of SOYLENT GREEN (™) ‘ala mode. Try it with a piping hot cup of SOYLENT COFFEE. (™)


Jim Vorel is Paste’s news editor. He realizes how bizarre this concept was. You can follow him on Twitter.

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