Title text: Some people haven't heard of the Donner Party. They were pioneers who got stranded and likely resorted to cannibalism.
The title text explains to the reader that the Donner party was a group of pioneers who set out west along a new route that was supposed to be easier to travel, but ultimately proved slow and treacherous. They became trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains and many died. Low on food, it is believed that many of the pioneers resorted to cannibalism, eating the bodies of party members who had already died.
In this comic, three Donner party members arrive at Joe's restaurant, where they have ordered a table for four, as given by the fact that the maître d' knows they are the Donner party and calls for a party of four. The three decline the table since they are already full. This suggests that they just have eaten the, unknown to us, fourth member of their party after they placed the order for a table at the restaurant, but before they strolled over to it anyway.
Of course, since they are not in a survival situation in this strip, cannibalism would be completely unnecessary.
In the early days of xkcd (and days when Wikipedia was not quite in the mainstream consciousness), Randall didn't trust people to understand his comics or his references, and often explained the joke in the title text like here and for instance also in 38: Apple Jacks.
- [Three people stand outside a restaurant; Megan, a man with some hair and another shorter person, probably a woman. There is a sign above the door and a menu next to it. Outside the door, there's a maître d' with a cap behind a lectern. There is sign on the lectern.]
- maître d': Donner, party of four?
- Man: Actually, never mind.
- Megan: We're full.
- Sign over door: Joe's
- Menu: Menu
- Sign on lectern: Eat in
- This was the 29th comic originally posted to LiveJournal.
- Original title: "Monday's Drawing - Donner"
- There were no original Randall quote for this comic.
- This comic was posted on xkcd when the web site opened on Sunday the 1st of January 2006.
- It was posted along with all 41 comics posted before that on LiveJournal as well as a few others.
- The latter explaining why the numbers of these 41 LiveJournal comics ranges from 1-44.
- One of the original drawings drawn on checkered paper.
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