Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Gratitude #ThursdayTreeLove

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States.  As we count our blessings, we also remember those who have lost loved ones around the holidays. This has happened to me more than once, and my heart goes out to all those this has happened to. 

I am moved to post this picture of two trees on our local Vestal Rail Trail.  One is an apple tree (you can barely see red fruit).  The other, with white bark, I believe is a quaking poplar.

Trees have a lot of wisdom to share with us, if only we could communicate with them.  Right now I think they would tell us we all need a good laugh or two today.

This year it will just be four of us: myself, my spouse, our son, and one of his brothers.

I don't mind, though.  I like things small.  

I am also grateful for friends and co-workers, and want to share something sweet that happened several years ago.

It's time once again to tell you the story of the year I called the Butterball turkey number on a dare to get advise for cooking a 28 pound turkey.

First, the name of the talk line.  It's not the Butterball Hotline, which I thought it was until 2017.  It's Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line, and it has been giving turkey cooking advice to people in the United States since 1981.  

For years, one would have to call and talk to the kind folks at the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, but now one can text them, too.  The texting number is 844-877-3456.  The phone number is 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  So, if you are having last minute problems today, do give them a call or text.

Why would Americans need to talk or text turkey? Because on Thanksgiving, it is traditional to cook a turkey, and - well, there are so many ways to prepare turkeys.

I've wanted to call the Hot..I mean, the Turkey Talk-Line for years, but my spouse, the family cook, has never needed turkey advice. 

Comedian Stephen Colbert has made it a Thanksgiving tradition to call the Turkey Talk-Line with prank questions for years.  In recent years, those good folks actually let him loose on the Talk-Line in person. I am not sure he's doing it any more.

By the way, don't take his advice.

Back in 2017, someone I know was concerned because she had purchased a 28 pound (12.7 kg) frozen turkey for Thanksgiving (November 26 this year, in the United States) and had tried online research to figure out how long to cook it.  She had never cooked that big a turkey before.

Why don't we call Butterball? I asked.  "OK, but you start the conversation" was her response.  And so I dialed 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  The phone was answered quickly by a woman.

Upon hearing of the 28 pound turkey, the woman exclaimed, "oh, you will have such a beautiful turkey when it is cooked.  It will be golden brown; it will look like something in a Norman Rockwell painting!  It will look wonderful on your table."  Obviously, she sensed our hesitation.  But she was totally prepared with advice.

She took us through the process.  "You need to take the turkey now, today, and put it in your refrigerator.  It will take that long to safely defrost." Then she explained how to pat the turkey dry, take out the giblets (these turkeys are prepped and almost ready to go).  She gave us the oven temperature (325 degrees F), the fact that after a couple of hours we were to tent the turkey with aluminum foil, and the total approximate coking time (4 1/2 hours) for the unstuffed turkey.  And, she recommended we use a meat thermometer and what temperature the breast, or the leg, should be before you consider the bird "done".

She talked with us as if she had all the time in the world (maybe, a week away from Turkey Day, she did have a lot of time. But, on Turkey Day, her and her co workers will field about 10,000 phone calls). And again, she told us how beautiful that turkey was going to look on the table. After our questions were answered, she asked for only one thing - what was our zip code (postal code)?

We answered, and she exclaimed "Binghamton, New York.  Oh, I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania!" (that's about an hour south of us).  She closed by asking if we had any more questions (we didn't).

So ended our conversation with the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.

It did make me wonder who works for the Talk-Line, and if they enjoy talking turkey all day long.
So, an article about their experiences is quite fascinating, too, especially, when you get to the part about the 89 year old man cooking his first turkey.  It sounds like such a fun place to work, if you are a people person.

And, if you have about eight more minutes today, enjoy.  We all need a good laugh, maybe today more than ever.

Joining Parul and other tree lovers each second and fourth Thursday at the Happiness and Food blog for #ThursdayTreeLove.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for the laugh today.

  2. I obviously never tried Butterball. But, I did work with Swift (which had a great big facility in Birdsboro, PA [I am NOT making this up!]. they were a great client.

  3. I love your story. Growing up, right up until I was married, my parents cooked the turkey so I never worried about it. When I got married I found out that my in-laws smoked the turkeys. I loved them. The problem was that they didn't want to start the smoking until the day of the holiday and they insisted on having dinner at noon.
    The problem is that your average smoker is only about 200 to 220 degrees so you are never going to get to 165 in a smoker but they tried and the turkeys were raw!!
    So nowadays I'm in charge of the Turkeys and I smoke them a day in advance. I smoke them until the smoke is all gone and then I cook them in an oven at 300F until they are done according to the meat thermometer.

  4. I do remember the thawing of the turkey as a thing my mom did every year. I shudder to think of those that call the hot line on Thanksgiving who haven't even started the prep.


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