I saw it mentioned
in a column the other day… the famous Butterball hotline. Closing
in on 30-years of advice and information, troubleshooting and
problem solving, the hotline gets turkey lovers through the holiday
serious is this subject to many that Butterball actually runs
University… a training program for new hotline
operators, featuring thick binders and students that all have
outstanding food-service credentials.
as you would hope considering the ideas involved… saving people
from holiday tragedies and horrendous mistakes… there are horror
stories galore from the history of the hotline.
Current estimates are that for roughly two months they will field
over one hundred thousand calls. That number could be higher…
but I think something interesting has happened which may cut into
Butterball’s messages. See, they’re not the only holiday
hotline available. Crisco has a pie hotline.
Fleischmann’s has one for baking. Ocean Spray has one. (Apparently
for all of those questions about which sherbet to serve with which
juice. Personally, I usually go with a rainbow sherbet with apple
juice.) General Mills and Nestle Toll House are in there as well.
And poultry… wow… for poultry there’s Perdue, Reynolds, and even
the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
all of this got me wondering about something seemingly unrelated.
What do you traditionally put on your holiday table?
me, it’s Mom’s pecan rolls. Not even close. You could swap out
everything else, potentially including the turkey itself, but
as long as the pecan rolls make it to the meal, we’re good.
gave this pecan roll thing a lot of thought. I happen to be thankful
for the pearl onions on the table. Don’t see them often during
the year… so they’re a nice little change, and I’m always looking
for them when it’s time to make sandwiches later. Terry and Mom
like turnips. And canned corn has caused quite a few spirited
debates. (Yuck is the word that comes to mind. But some day I’ll
pass on the great canned corn Thanksgiving horror story to you.
Good stuff.) But after all consideration was given, I feel extremely
comfortable in saying that if I polled the family, Mom’s pecan
rolls would be the most noted item that is required on our holiday
do bring us into a new area entirely though. I always ask for
a delicious chocolate pecan pie… which wouldn’t replace the rolls
for me. It’s just a personal favorite. That said, there is a request
for blueberry pie that makes it a staple of the dinner, and Mom
would likely be more concerned about making sure blueberry pie
was in the house than the rolls. I understand her dedication to
pleasing everyone, but those pecan rolls simply can’t be topped.
there just isn’t a single item other than these rolls that tempts
every person in the room.
does this involve Butterball and the hotline?
I’m sort of wondering how many people change the way they cook
turkeys from year to year. And that means I guess I’m asking…
why? Why do we need Butterball University? Once you cook a turkey…
or once you get involved in taking over the family traditions…
don’t some things stay the same? Shouldn’t a person that successfully
delivered turkey dinner last year… the past five years… the past
since before most of the guests were born years… be able to deliver
it again without the help of Butterball U?
if you read those horror stories on the internet, you’ll find
out that people want to know if it’s ok to leave the turkey in
the bathtub with the children. (I actually gave some thought to
this one. It’s a thinker. Really. What makes a person decide to
wash the children and toss in a turkey? A plastic boat… a toy
frog… sure. But the turkey? And all I can come up with is that
idea of defrosting of a turkey in a sink filled with water. Turkey
gets in the way in the sink, or maybe it’s just too big for the
sink… so put it in the tub. And if the kids need a bath, the idea
becomes is it ok to just leave the turkey there and work around
it, then let it go get back to its thawing when bath time is done.
I’m not saying that makes sense. I’m just saying it’s the best
I can come up with having not consumed much alcohol during the
time I gave to the thought.)
not, because many people change things up from year to year. A
new stuffing. The differences between stuffing and not stuffing
the bird. And the really different, including the legendary deep-fried
not, because people think that things that get hot… washing machines
and car engines… can heat a turkey.
the reality is… take away the people that are making their first
turkeys… and take away people that are trying something new. And
once again I’m left with the thought… if a turkey is part of your
annual tradition, how many questions are you going to encounter?
makes the pecan rolls. Oh… sure… others in the family have tried
to make the pecan rolls. It’s never the same. That’s her job…
that’s the tradition.
must be something different that causes dozens of thousands of
people to call about how to cook their turkey. Does Butterball
know something today about turkey preparation that they didn’t
have available last year or the year before that? What do they
know today that they didn’t know 365-days ago that they can tell
me so I will be able to cook a turkey? What do they know that
the little pop-up-thingy doesn’t know?
people can be so unaware of what is taking place that they leave
a plastic bag filled with turkey guts inside the turkey during
the cooking process… what does the Butterball University graduate
know that allows them to connect with those people and make sense
of a pending disaster?
for me the best teacher is usually observation and experience.
See, this year when the bird just wouldn’t heat those last few
degrees, we found out that these hotlines do work. Even the most
tested of turkey preparers might need some help now and then.
I was on the web site of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, looking
up the safe-service temperatures of a turkey. And I’m happy to
report a wonderful meal was enjoyed by all.