As every hostess knows, children can become rather fidgety sitting around at Thanksgiving while all the grownups reminisce about the “good old days.” So this year, why not give them a chance to do some “reminiscing” themselves — about the first Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth Colony? Teach them a happy holiday history lesson by decorating with these edible Popcorn Pilgrims and Cornucopias that add a touch of life to the tales of the colonial days of America.
Popcorn is the ideal holiday snack to serve to your own little “tribe”, because the Indians brought a deerskin bag of the crunchy kernels to the first Thanksgiving get-together. Our popcorn pilgrim faces — John and Priscilla — are lively and tasty reminders of that first feast.
Flavored with orange soft drink mix and decorated with candy smiles and cut-out hats, they make attractive placecard holders at the dinner table and delicious after-dinner treats (with their pinned-on cardboard hats and the pins removed, of course). You might even want to offer them as prizes for a turkey drawing contest or a holiday “history” quiz.
In keeping with the season, traditional cornucopias (made from the same popcorn mixture as the faces) brimming with mixed nuts, candy corn and gumdrops. will delight the youngsters as take-home favors or late-afternoon sweet snacks for the ones who are invariably “still hungry”!
The popcorn recipe makes eight pilgrim faces or eight cornucopias. Use your creativity to add life to the faces with shoestring licorice, jelly beans, gumdrops and bits of cloth and paper. For an added energy boost, you might want to fill the cornucopias with raisins or other bits of dried fruits. The kids will love them and you’ll be giving them a treat that not only tastes good, but is good for them.
Popcorn Pilgrims and Cornucopias
Ever since the Indians added it to the first Thanksgiving menu, popcorn has been an American favorite for kids of all ages. Basic popcorn recipe makes eight pilgrim faces or eight cornucopias. Make enough — just in case the grownups want to get in on the goodies, too!
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 pkg. (1/2 oz.) instant orange soft drink mix [unsweetened]
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 quarts popped corn
Licorice strings, gumdrops, jelly beans, black, white and yellow construction paper, cardboard, black crepe paper, ribbons, pins. etc. as desired to decorate pilgrim faces
Butter sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Combine water, sugar, corn syrup, orange drink mix, vinegar and sait in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Continue cooking until mixture reaches 250 degrees, or that hard ball stage on a candy thermometer.
Remove saucepan from heat; quickly stir vanilla into mixture and pour over popped corn to coat. Put pan of popcorn in hot water to prevent popcorn from hardening while forming shapes. Lightly butter hands and shape popcorn into eight 4-1/2-inch flat circles for pilgrim faces, using 1 cup popcorn mixture for each face.
Make features for faces from black shoestring licorice, jelly beans, gumdrops, or other small candies, using warm syrup for “glue.”
Cut two rectangles, one from white construction paper and one from black construction paper, each 8-1/2 x 5-1/2. Individually fold long edge of each rectangle back one inch. Put black paper on top of white paper. Attach edge of hat that is folded back to face with roundheaded pins. Bead two lower back corners of rectangle forward. Make a bow out of white ribbons and attach to hat.
Cut a 6-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ rectangle out of cardboard. Round off ends of one 6-1/2″ side to form front of brim. On opposite 6-1/2″ straight side, 1-1/4″ from each edge cut 1″ up toward curved brim side: then cut straight across so that there is a 4″ x 1″ rectangle cut out of the straight side. Cover both sides of brim with black crepe paper. Outline crown of hat on another piece of cardboard, using a 4″ base, tapered up about 4 inches toward a top of about 2-1/4 inches. Cover with crepe paper. Cut 1/2″ square buckle from yellow construction paper and glue to crown segment. Fit two sections of hat together atop popcorn pilgrim face. Attach firmly with round-headed pins.
Popcorn mixture may also be shaped into 8 cornucopias. Press 1 cup popcorn mixture into a 10-ounce cone-shaped paper cup, lightly buttered so that paper may be peeled away easilv. Leave center hollow.
After shaping cornucopia cones, allow them to set until cool and hard. Cornucopias may be filled with assorted candies and nuts.
NOTE: One ounce of unpopped kernels (2 tablespoons household measure) makes approximately 1 quart of popped corn.