History

An Ode to Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce

Whether you prefer canned or homemade cranberry sauce, Ocean Spray has been making our Thanksgiving tables sweet and wobbly since 1930.

By Aimee Tucker

Nov 18 2021

ocean-spray-cranberry-sauce-promo

Committed to the cranberry, Ocean Spray’s Massachusetts headquarters is surrounded by 16 acres of cranberry bogs!

Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be complete without a helping of colorful, tart-sweet cranberry sauce alongside the turkey and mashed potatoes, and here in New England, Ocean Spray jellied canned cranberry sauce has been a source of hometown pride since 1930. Based in Lakeville-Middleboro, MA, Ocean Spray operates as an agricultural coop that works with more than 700 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and other parts of Canada to produce (among many other things) one can of cranberry sauce per family per year on average. That’s over 70 million cans!

ocean spray cranberry sauce
Committed to the cranberry, Ocean Spray’s Massachusetts headquarters is surrounded by 16 acres of cranberry bogs!
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

Friend to all things cranberry, Ocean Spray sells fresh berries each fall in addition to the canned sauce (both whole berry and jellied), not to mention dried cranberries (Craisins®) and a full beverage line year-round. While some families prefer the fresh berries for making homemade cranberry sauce or relish from a family recipe, many others — Ocean Spray says a whopping 74% — are staunchly loyal to the can.

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Ocean Spray -- a Thanksgiving classic.
Ocean Spray cranberries — a Thanksgiving classic.
Photo Credit : Ocean Spray

Why? Some simply prefer the firm texture (better for sandwiches!) and familiar flavor (my sister tried serving a homemade cranberry pineapple relish one year alongside the canned jelly slices and it went over with our family about as well as margarine and skim milk in the mashed potatoes), but others consider canned cranberry sauce a once-a-year comfort food and reminder of childhood, like candy corn or marshmallow chicks. For can-lovers, those telltale ridges bordering each slice are a thing of Thanksgiving beauty.

ocean spray cranberry sauce
Are you a fan of the can? Some New Englanders say they “prefer the ridges.”
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

According to Ocean Spray, Americans consume 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season (enough to fill about 50 Macy’s Day Parade balloons!), which really got us wondering — how do Yankee readers stack up? Will your Thanksgiving table include canned or homemade cranberry sauce? Both? And will the leftovers make it into a “Day After Thanksgiving” sandwich? Let us know below.

Here’s some of what we’ve heard from the YankeeFacebook audience:

  • “It’s not Thanksgiving dinner at our house without a beautiful antique relish dish full of sliced, jellied cranberry sauce ..with the can ridges!” – Catt K.
  • “Homemade, no offense Ocean Spray, we grew up eating your canned cranberry sauce and I still like it, but I prefer a homemade sauce with pieces of real cranberry in it.” – Patrick C.
  • “Homemade. But I yield to those who have fond memories of the sliced cranberry sauce in a fancy dish. Ours was pressed glass seemingly designed only for cranberry sauce from a can. YUM. (I will give Ocean Spray their due; if it is going to be canned, it better be Ocean Spray!!)” – Barb L.
  • “Both! Because it’s Thanksgiving and on one day a year… I’m all for people enjoying what they prefer. And who am I to judge?” – Linda K.

This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated. 

For those of you that might want to try a homemade version this year along with the canned, here are some of our favorite homemade cranberry sauce recipes:

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipes:
Easy, Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry-Apple Chutney
Gingered Cranberry Sauce with Maple Syrup, Pineapple & Pecans
Chai-Spiced Orange-Cranberry Sauce