Here’s How We Stumped the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line

On portion sizes, basting techniques and philosophy

November 17, 2016 9:00 am

1-800-BUTTERBALL. It’s a toll-free number many an amateur chef knows by heart.

Because since 1981, Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line has fielded just about every question there is about Thanksgiving turkey prep. Yes, it is actually real. If you do call, there will be an actual “turkey expert” on the other side of the phone.  

And even though they’ve certainly answered some very strange questions, with news this year that the poultry doyens were stepping into modern times by opening the popular hotline to tweets and texts, we couldn’t resist asking a few questions of our own.

Turns out they can’t answer everything. We started off easy, and got automated results:

Hey Butterball! How do I ensure my turkey isn’t bland and dry?
Butterball Hotline: Thanks for the text! This is the easiest way to cook a turkey – click here for our tried-and-true roasting tips: Good luck!

Good luck, indeed! No one likes a dry turkey. After reading through their roasting tips, we asked the question on the minds of everyone in our editorial room:

How many pounds of turkey should I get to feed a family of five, plus 13 racist relatives?
Definitely something I can help with! We have a helpful calculator you can use to pick a turkey size. Check it out

No word yet on the racist relatives. But that calculator? Quite handy. Then, we  thought we’d see how the Talk-Line would do with something a little more abstract:

What came first, the turkey or the egg?

No response. We waited. Then … waited. Then, got this:

We are here to answer cooking questions. We suggest checking the National Turkey Federation website –

Fair. Very fair. Still, if you’re billing yourself as a turkey hotline, you’ve gotta be up for anwering the tough questions. Point is, that stopped our conversation in its tracks. Here are all the questions we wanted to ask it but couldn’t:

  • If I cut out some colored construction paper feathers and glue them to a steak, is that a turkey?
  • What are the odds Trump says “you’re fired” when he pardons the turkey?
  • Do you consider merely your proximity to Syria to be the root cause of this recent spate of terrorist attacks, or are there other factors at play?
  • Do you think turkeys find the term “jive” offensive?
  • If I go cold turkey on eating turkey will it open a rift in the space time continuum?
  • If I have 10 pounds of turkey and 5 bottles of wine, how long is it going to take for my mother to bring up politics?

Guess you can’t please everyone.


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