What's in Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving meal, nutritionally speaking?

Jane Corscadden November 23, 2020
What's in Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving meal, nutritionally speaking?

Thanksgiving is coming up, and as per tradition, many Americans will include Charlie Brown in their celebrations. But what’s in Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving meal, and how does it compare nutritionally to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner?

We’ve done all the math, so you don’t have to!

What’s in the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal?

It isn’t as fulfilling as you think. For their Thanksgiving meal, Charlie Brown serves his friends (wait for it…) two slices of buttered toast, pretzel sticks, a handful of popcorn, and a few jelly beans. As you’d expect, their friends seem to be bewildered by the “meal.”


Peppermint Patty reacts like any one of us might: “What kind of a Thanksgiving dinner is this? Where’s the turkey? Don’t you know anything about Thanksgiving dinner? Where’s the mashed potatoes? Where’s the cranberry sauce? Where’s the pumpkin pie?”

But how does Charlie Brown’s effort live up to the real thing? Could it even be…healthier?

Does it compare to the real thing?

In the chaos that is 2020, Charlie Brown-inspired Thanksgiving snacking platters have become a thing.

Photo via Pinterest

Nice as a mid-day snack, maybe, but as the main event? Think again.

Firstly, you can hardly call a mesh of random snacks a meal, let alone one of the best meals of the year. Secondly, is there even any nutritional value to Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving meal? Let’s see…

The nutritional lowdown

In two slices of buttered wheat toast, there’s 194 calories, 8g of fat, and 28g of carbs.

Next up, a portion of pretzel sticks will set you back 100 calories, with 23g of carbs and 460mg sodium.

One portion (around a handful) of salted popcorn is around 64 calories with 5g carbs, while a serving of jelly beans is 140 calories, with 36g of carbs.

All in all, Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving meal totals around 500 calories and 92g of carbs. Ouch.

Meanwhile, the average person’s dinner should fall anywhere between 500-700 calories, nutritionists advise. So if you look at it simply on a calorific basis, technically Charlie Brown’s thrown-together Thanksgiving meal could be a full dinner.

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving meal vs. traditional turkey dinner

Photo by Jed Owen on Unsplash

It’s been suggested that an average Thanksgiving dinner (including drinks, appetisers, and dessert) clocks in at around 4,500 calories.

Thanksgiving dinner is a relatively balanced meal however, with fairly even amounts of quality protein, simple and complex carbs and both saturated and unsaturated fat – unlike Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving dinner which is loaded with sugar, refined carbs and not much else.

Although Thanksgiving dinner is loaded with calories, the appearance of vegetables already sets it apart from Charlie Brown’s “dinner”. But the American tradition of sweet potatoes and marshmallows being served on the same plate as turkey brings it right back down again.

In the end, it might all come to down preference. And if you’re going to splurge anyway, why not have both – one as an appetiser and the other as the main event?

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Jane is a freelance journalist from Belfast, Northern Ireland specialising in news, culture and politics. She studied Politics at Queen’s University Belfast before completing a Journalism MA at the University of Ulster. Always trawling social media and keeping up to date with the latest trends and crazes, her main interest lies in digital culture and internet trends.