Strange Americana: Why Is Canned Cranberry Sauce Such a Holiday Staple?

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Much like eggnog or gingerbread cookies, canned cranberry sauce seems to be one of those foods that magically appears on store shelves during the holidays. Sure, you could purchase it in July, but something about Thanksgiving and canned cranberry sauce just works. And if your Christmas staple is turkey, or if another type of holiday gathering calls for such a meal, cranberry sauce is a must.

What you might not realize is that only 5% of the total crop of cranberries is sold in fresh fruit form. So, how does the cranberry industry stay afloat? Well, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) Americans consume a staggering 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season. Canned cranberry sauce is not just a staple, but a tradition. In this installment of Strange Americana, we’re taking a look at the history of this strange, yet delectable, gelatinous, can-shaped substance. Any way you slice it, it’s sure to be fascinating.