The Butterball Turkey Talk Line Is Still Solving Thanksgiving Disasters

The talk line has been averting Thanksgiving disasters for 38 years

thanksgiving turkey
Averting Thanksgiving nightmares since 1981.
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By Kayla Kibbe / November 27, 2019 10:03 am

If you encounter any turkey-related kitchen nightmares this Thanksgiving, rest assured a qualified team of professionals is standing by waiting to jump into action.

They’re the team behind the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, a Thanksgiving dinner help line launched 38 years ago as a marketing gimmick. Nearly four decades later, the help line has become, as Kim Severson put it for the New York Times, “a seasonal slice of Americana as sturdy and reassuring as a Midwestern grandmother with a degree in home economics,” which, as she adds, is exactly what many of the line’s expert operators are.

The line helps tens of thousands of Thanksgiving cooks navigate disaster every year, surviving competition from the internet thanks not only to nostalgia, but also the personalized service and expertise its operators bring to the job.

Phyllis Kramer, a 17-year talk line vet, told the Times about a near Thanksgiving disaster she helped avert a few years ago involving a group of puzzled revelers who were unaware they had cooked their turkey upside down.

“The internet isn’t going to tell them that,” Kramer told the Times.

Over the years, the talk line has eased nervous cooks through all manner of kitchen disasters, from frozen turkeys thawing in children’s bathtubs to many a fried turkey near-emergency. (If you see flames though, it’s probably best to skip the talk line and go ahead and dial 911.)

In more recent years, the experts have had to contend with new trends, fielding questions about Instant Pots and even a recurring viral internet challenge in which kids text their parents for advice on cooking a turkey in the microwave and post the responses.

This year, whether you’re nervously cooking your first Thanksgiving bird or lost somewhere in the depths of an internet meme, professional help is still just a phone call away.

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