If you’ve ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner, then you might well remember the pressure of your first time cooking a turkey for a table full of guests. You know how concerned you were that things might not go quite right. You might even have experienced that apprehension today.
No one wants to be embarrassed if the bird is burnt or, worse, isn’t cooked in time to feed a house filled with guests.
To aid distressed cooks with questions of thaw times, bird brining and carving tips, Butterball has run its Turkey Talk-Line for 31 years, sometimes uncovering the hilarious consequences of kitchen mayhem.
Below are some of the more humorous — or simply bizarre — stories gathered over the years from Butterball, others from newspaper stories and still others from Snopes.com. Where possible, stories have been confirmed by Butterball Turkey Talk-Line Director Mary Clingman as being authentic.
Bundle of Joy
A flustered father called the Talk-Line a few hours after his wife had given birth to their first child. He was concerned their turkey had been thawing in the fridge for too long while he was at the hospital. When the staffer asked the man how much it weighed, he replied, “The turkey or the baby?”
After determining the turkey’s weight and thawing time, she assured him he would be able to deliver a safe, delicious Thanksgiving dinner by the time mom and the baby returned home.
A New Jersey fireman called the Talk-Line while cooking dinner for his entire firehouse to ask where he should insert the meat thermometer into his turkey. After the home economist explained the proper technique, she suggested he log on to Butterball.com to get free Butterball recipes as well.
He was interested in trying the recipes, but was worried that should any of his co-workers find out, he might lose his “macho” image.
After all, what would his fellow firefighters think if they discovered he now knew as much about roasting Butterballs as he did fighting fires?
After discovering a turkey from 1969 in his dad’s freezer, an Alabama man called the Talk-Line to ask about the best way to cook the 30+ year-old bird.
Although the Talk-Line staffer recommended the open roasting pan method to cook most turkeys, this time she suggested that the first step was to purchase a fresher fowl!
This same gentleman also had in his freezer: the top of his wedding cake and a snowball from every snowstorm he’d experienced in Alabama.
Third Times a Charm
One caller was well versed at walking down the aisle, but not so versed when it came to cooking her Thanksgiving turkey.
The caller explained to Carol Miller, 20+ year Talk-Line veteran, that Thanksgiving with her first husband was a bust since she forgot to thaw the turkey. She blundered Thanksgiving with her second husband when the foil pan she was using bent and slipped out of her hands leaving the feast on the floor.
She was hoping the third time would be the charm, so she called the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line to make sure she was doing everything right.
Never Too Old
A woman in her 70s, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, called the Turkey Talk-Line for help. Her mother said she was tired of cooking, and it was time her daughter learned how to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.
Reuters asked Butterball operators to recall some of the most bizarre questions they had fielded during the 2010 holiday and these were some of the best (or worst):
—Is it okay to thaw my turkey in the bathtub while bathing my kids?
—Can I brine my turkey in the washing machine?
—Can I use my oven’s self-cleaning cycle to speed up the cooking process?
—Can I take my frozen turkey into my sauna to thaw it faster?
Smells Like Turkey
Another woman admitted that she purchased a cooked turkey from her local deli, but wanted to convince her guests that she made it herself. She wanted her whole house to smell like turkey, so she asked the tip line if there was such a thing as a turkey-aerosol can.
Cleaning Gone Wild
A confused cook called the Butterball line after cleaning her turkey because she wanted to know how to get the metal pieces out. “Apparently,” said one of the Butterball economists, “she had scrubbed her bird with a steel scouring pad.”
In a separate incident, a West Coast woman who had taken anti-bacterial precautions too far called Butterball to find out how to get the bleach she’d used off her bird.
Similarly, a first-time Thanksgiving chef called on Thanksgiving morning in tears. She had successfully thawed her turkey and then rinsed it — with dish soap. She was crying because the turkey wouldn’t stop sudsing.
A man called to say that he had cut his turkey in half using a chainsaw. He wanted to know if the oil from the chain would adversely affect the turkey.
Chihuahua Gone Wild
Butterball turkey experts still talk about the Kentucky woman who called in 1993 to ask how to get her dog out of her turkey.
It seems the woman’s Chihuahua had dived into the bird’s cavity and become trapped there. The woman tried pulling the pooch and shaking the bird, all to no avail. A Talk-Line economist finally suggested the woman carefully cut the opening in the turkey wider to release the captive canine.