"Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 Seconds" is a proposal for a meal cooked using a single bolt of lightning. Evading an exact allegorical interpretation, one can describe the project as “slightly off the mark” in several ways. For instance, to harness a force of nature as a means of expediting a culturally important meal is to overlook the importance of Thanksgiving's ritualistic aspect. Through its extraordinarily elaborate process — researching electrical conduction, consulting with scientists, testing both the conductivity and resistance of the materials involved (including the turkeys) — the project also performs and undoes the illusion held in the United States of a fast-food meal. In other words, the alternative process of cooking with lightning in fact does not “save” time or fulfill its promise of a “lightning-fast” meal but disguises the expenditure of time through alternate tragicomic means.
We compare Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 seconds to the American tradition of erecting a plastic Christmas tree. As a plant that endures the seasons and oftentimes outlasts a human lifetime, the Christmas tree is a symbol of life everlasting. As the most important of American meals, the process of preparing a Thanksgiving meal is a means of demonstrating one’s gratefulness (thanks). "Thanksgiving Dinner in 5 seconds" questions what then happens when expediency supplants the original symbolic intent.
Through its extraordinarily elaborate process—researching electrical conduction, consulting with scientists, building and customizing the correct devices to properly cook the meal—the project suggests that cooking with lightning in fact does not “save” time or fulfill its promise of a “lightning-fast” meal but disguises the expenditure of time through alternate tragicomic means.