There are a lot of things to argue over when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. For example, you could clash over current events or which side dish is the best (team sweet potatoes!). You could also butt heads over whether you think retail stores should be open on Thanksgiving Day.
But here’s one question that's sure to divide the room — one that we've actually been wondering ourselves, as we’ve noticed that our friends all seem to eat with their families at different times on Thanksgiving.
So, here’s the big question: What time should Thanksgiving dinner be served? This became a heated topic of debate on a November 2021 episode of Live With Ryan and Kelly, and since then, others have weighed in on social media as well.
Ryan Seacrest eats his Thanksgiving dinner almost six hours earlier than Kelly Ripa and Kevin Hart.
On an episode last year of Live With Ryan and Kelly, Kevin Hart stopped by to discuss his Netflix thriller series, True Story. During his appearance, the trio also started to discuss Thanksgiving.
"What time do you have your meal?" Ryan asked Kevin.
"We're Black, so we go late. We're not an early-to-eat family," he explained, later clarifying that by "late," he meant around 8 p.m.
"I think it's really weird because this is the only time where I see race play a factor," Kevin continued, adding that he has friends of different ethnicities who eat their Thanksgiving dinner at 2 or 3 p.m. "And I'm like, who does that?" he asked.
"Dinner should be late," Kelly chimed in. Meanwhile, Ryan began to look extremely uncomfortable.
Kevin then put the TV personality in the hot seat, asking him what time his family eats their Turkey Day dinner. "2:30," Ryan sheepishly answered.
Kevin, to put it lightly, was in total shock. "I'm really just upset right now," he said to Ryan. "I would literally fight you."
Kelly echoed Kevin and explained that in the Ripa-Consuelos household, cocktails are at 6 p.m. and dinner is at 8.
What time does the average American eat Thanksgiving dinner?
While Kevin teased Ryan about his early dinner, the American Idol host started spitting out facts. "The average American eats at 4 p.m.," he claimed.
Unfortunately, Distractify was unable to fact-check this statement as almost every website has a different answer as to what the average time for Thanksgiving dinner is.
The Atlantic dubbed 4 p.m as an ideal time to begin feasting, but that's just one writer's opinion. Meanwhile, a 2018 survey of U.S. consumers found that 42 percent of respondents started their Thanksgiving dinner between 1 and 3 p.m., according to Statista — which still doesn't exactly clear things up.
Food Network confuses us even more. "It can be 2 p.m., 3 p.m., or even 5 p.m. in your home," writes Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.
Twitter has had some thoughts after several users posted polls asking what time Thanksgiving dinner should be. In one, the large majority of people (nearly 75 percent) said dinner should be served in the mid-afternoon.
Many echoed this sentiment, saying that dinner should take place somewhere between 2 and 4 p.m.
However, other folks argued that Thanksgiving dinner it should be around, well, dinner time — usually between 5 and 8 p.m.
Others prefer to eat earlier in order to take advantage of any early Black Friday doorbusters.
Meanwhile, Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University, confirmed to HuffPost that an earlier dinner is better for digestive purposes.
“It’s easier to adjust throughout the rest of the day if you’ve overeaten at an earlier meal,” she said, explaining that eating large meals closer to bedtime is not ideal as you'll be going to bed with undigested foods in your gastrointestinal system. This may lead to gastric reflux in some individuals.
So, what's the correct time to serve Thanksgiving dinner? Should you eat at 2:30 p.m. like Ryan Seacrest's family? Or 8 p.m. like Kelly Ripa and Kevin Hart?
The answer is: It's up to you and your crew. If you're a stickler for routine and eating dinner at the normal hour, then don't change a thing. But if you're trying to go shopping that night, want to avoid stomach problems, or want time to squeeze in a nap after eating, try celebrating a little bit earlier.