A letter written by Edward Winslow of the Plymouth colony to a friend back in England in December of 1621 describes a three-day festival at which the English colonists hosted their Wampanoag neighbors. Alexander Young in his book, Chronicles of the Pilgrim Forefathers, published in 1841, described this harvest festival as “the first Thanksgiving,” based on his interpretation of this rediscovered letter.
“Indian” was used to refer to any dish made with corn meal.
This dish was a favorite in New England from colonial times. The first published American cookbook, Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery (1796), lists three versions of Indian Pudding. It could be made with eggs or without, over the fire with much stirring or baked in the oven with slow-cooking dishes such as baked beans.