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Firstly, Happy Thanksgiving! Facing steep odds, the Pilgrims who landed in New England in 1620 had plenty to be thankful for, beginning with their survival. In order to overcome food shortages, the approaching winter, disease and unfamiliar landscapes, personal relationships as well as technology played crucial roles in the first Thanksgiving. Barrels were a big deal then. They allowed settlers to store food and drink (beer) and to store goods which would be sold back to England.
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The central technology that allowed the Pilgrims to survive was firepower. Although they befriended native tribes, their muskets and cannons guaranteed the colonists power in any struggle with Native Americans. Fermentation was equally important in an area where local water sources were not trusted. It provided a clean source of liquids as well as carbohydrates which accompanied fermented barley. According to historians, it was custom to brew at home rather than at a central distillery.
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