For some, Thanksgiving is a time for family. For others, the day is ripe for the retelling of hilarious turkey dinner tales — like the time someone tried to defrost a turkey in a hot tub. Or the time a bird defecated in the middle of a freshly baked pumpkin pie. Or when that entrepreneurial relative tried to deep fry a turkey and lost a garage door in the process. But there is hope on the horizon for luckless holiday chefs, according to AOL News. The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is a free, 24-hour hotline staffed by experts on the art of turkey preparation. (You can also email them at email@example.com.)
About 52 highly trained cooking experts man the phones at 800-BUTTERBALL, located in Naperville, Ill. Specialists talk to panicking cooks throughout November and December. Mary Clingman, director of the Talk-Line, shares some of the wacky and weird phone calls she's received in her 25 years of service.
As Clingman tells AOL News, even her own college-age son has called in. According to Clingman, "My son was wondering what to cook the turkey on and had chosen a cookie sheet because he didn't have a roasting pan. The drippings from the turkey got everywhere, all over his oven, and set off the smoke detectors in his building.” She also tells the story of a woman who called to ask if she could cook a turkey over a bed of kitty litter. Even a president — well, he's a fictional president — has called in for advice. (Don't miss the video at bottom.)
Clingman offers two key points of advice: Use a meat thermometer and be sure to relax. According to Clingman, "The turkey is easy; the oven does all the work for you. You don't have to baste it or turn it over a bunch of times, just let it cook and keep an eye on it. Basting a turkey is like pouring water on a raincoat: it's not going to do anything. The real key to a moist turkey is to avoid overcooking."
Nevertheless, reports of Thanksgiving turkey disasters are common. One woman tells of cooking her first Thanksgiving turkey in a crock pot — resulting in turkey soup, much to the disdain of her mother-in-law. A man tells the story of his mother thawing a turkey in a dryer, leaving it to thump around all night. This resulted in “projectile vomiting” by several of her guests.
The Talk-Line gets as many as 100,000 calls during the holiday season and as many as 10,000 to 20,000 calls on Thanksgiving Day alone. But frantic holiday callers take note — the Talk-Line is only open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
The Butterball Help Line is not the only source of information for the Thanksgiving cook. The Food Network offers an “In the Kitchen” app which offers recipes and menus. Butterball also uses Twitter and Facebook as forums. One thing is certain. Everyone has questions about Thanksgiving preparation — even imaginary presidents on TV.