It’s Cartoon Thursday! Because something about a long Thanksgiving weekend just says cartoons, and Thanksgiving specials to me.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving originally aired in 1973, and in addition to the work of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, it also showcases the music of the immortal Vince Guaraldi — much like the Peanuts Christmas special. To me, it’s his music as much as any other feature that gives these specials their timeless quality.
Ten years ago, the pop culture blog X-Entertainment decided to recreate the dinner scene from this special:
First airing in 70s, the special is one of Schultz’s lost treasures. I wouldn’t dare call it as entertaining as his Christmas or Halloween exploits, but with the limited material lent by a holiday as materialistically boring as Thanksgiving, it was great stuff. Likewise, there’s a few other Thanksgiving cartoon specials that’ve become almost forgotten over the years — I’ll be reviewing some of ‘em over the coming weeks.
Anyway, as the story went, Charlie Brown’s family was going to spend Thanksgiving with his grandparents. Fair enough. Peppermint Patty gives him a call, pressuring him into hosting a little pre-Thanksgiving feast for all of his friends. Chuck didn’t seem thrilled with the idea, but he’s just too much of a pushover to say “no” to anybody. With his parents gone, a virtually empty kitchen, and only novicial knowledge on how to prepare meals, Charlie Brown hands the cooking reigns over to Snoopy. Ever the crowdpleaser, Snoopy spends most of the episode alternating between wearing a chef’s hat and wearing a pilgrim’s hat. Either way, hat-wearing dogs are funny shit.
I admit that there’s plenty of things I love without any justifiable reason for doing so, but come on, this was fantastic stuff. With none of the usual foods available and the combined cooking skills of an armchair Emeril critic, the trio gleefully cuts corners and conjures up a peculiar menu: buttered toast, pretzels, ice cream sundaes, popcorn and jelly beans. The “toast scene” is phenomenal — they just keep repeating the same animation of Linus and Chuck throwing bread into a series of what looks to be at least 5,000 toasters, with Snoopy impaling the bounty on shish kabob sticks before buttering ‘em to all fatty Hell. Snoopy also makes popcorn the old fashioned way — in a stovetop pan — long before convenient microwave bags became the norm. I only mention this because the popcorn invariably explodes into a classic cartoon cliche, where the kitchen fills up with approximately ten million times the popcorn than could’ve possibly fit in the pan. Fittingly enough, the end result is a table full of grade school birthday party snacks. As a child, I was absolutely entranced by the meal they put together. I’m not sure if I found it strangely appetizing or what, but one notion burned into my brain and hasn’t left since: before I died, I had to recreate Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving feast.
What are your favorite animated holiday specials? Maybe I’ll select one for a future installment.
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Photo by kowarski released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.