27 Funny Butterball Hotline Calls to Share This Thanksgiving
Your turkey troubles are nothing compared to these real calls the Turkey Talk-Line experts have answered.
For three decades, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line has answered the desperate pleas of hundreds of thousands of holiday cooks. As you can imagine, in that time the staff of 50-plus experts has heard some pretty wild tales of Turkey Day mishaps and fielded many questions. The following are a few favorite conversations from the Butterball hotline operators. And if you need help this holiday season with your bird, don’t forget to call 1-800-BUTTERBALL.
A father in charge of thawing the turkey and bathing his toddler twins decided to hit two birds with one stone. “We could hear water splashing in the background, and it turns out he has his kids and the turkey in the tub all at the same time,” says Nicole Johnson, Talk-Line co-director. The man was calling to find out if the bathwater would be an acceptable method for thawing the turkey. Skip the bathwater and learn how to quickly defrost a turkey the right way.
After discovering a turkey from 1969 in his dad’s freezer, an Alabama man called the Butterball hotline 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. Here are some tips for picking out the best turkey for you.
Some holiday chefs take extreme measures to please all guests. A caller was emailed a photo featuring a turkey with a “bikini look.” As she was entertaining guests from the Bahamas, she asked the Talk-Line how she could create a “tropical turkey.” Believe it or not, Talk-Line vet Mary Clingman suggested using aluminum foil as a way to make the turkey look like a sun goddess! Check out these 32 golden turkey recipes you’ll want to roast this Thanksgiving.
Mother-in-law knows best
One woman called the Butterball hotline from a closet so her family couldn’t hear her. “Can you hear me? I’ve never cooked a turkey, and my mother-in-law is convinced I can’t cook—and I can’t cook, but I want to do it,” she whispered. The expert walked her through all the steps, advising against basting the turkey (even though the mother-in-law insisted). If you’re a newbie, follow our guide for cooking a perfect turkey.
A few hours after his wife had given birth, a new dad called the Butterball hotline to make sure the turkey hadn’t been thawing too long while he’d been at the hospital. The Talk-Line staffer asked how much it weighed, to which the flustered father 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 baby got home.
Third time’s 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, a 20-plus 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! Here are 15 tips for cooking a flavorful turkey.
All in the family
A woman in her seventies, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, called for help because her mother said she was tired of cooking and it was time her daughter learned how to prepare the Thanksgiving meal. On the flip side, learn these 12 timeless cooking tips we got from grandma.
Even Santa has Turkey Day questions—he and his wife called the Butterball hotline before making a showing in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. The jolly pair wanted to check in on the Turkey Talk-Line experts to see who was naughty and nice, plus get roasting information to make sure their bird turned out picture-perfect. “Guess the Turkey Talk-Line expert made the nice list, because Mrs. Claus was very happy with the help,” says Johnson.
Realizing his oven was too small to fit his Thanksgiving turkey, a landlord came up with a solution: switch roles and “rent” one of his tenant’s ovens for $25. He figured his problems were solved until he realized he’d have to constantly interrupt his tenant to baste the turkey. In a panic, he turned to the Turkey Talk-Line to ask how often he’d have to baste. The staffer assured the relieved landlord that just once would do the trick. Round out your meal with these irresistible Thanksgiving sides.
Tools of the trade
Another gentleman called to tell the operator he cut his turkey in half with a chainsaw and wanted to know if the oil from the chain would adversely affect the turkey. You don’t need to bother calling the Butterball hotline to ask about this vintage turkey cooking method because this is why you should never cook a Thanksgiving turkey in a paper bag.
Flipping for turkey
A disappointed woman called wondering why her turkey had no breast meat. After a conversation with a Talk-Line operator, it became apparent that the woman’s turkey was lying on the table upside down. Prevent your own mishaps with our guide to hosting Thanksgiving for the first time.
The great turkey expansion
A new bride cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in a small, apartment-sized oven wanted to make sure her turkey wouldn’t expand during cooking (as baked goods do) and thus get stuck in the oven.
A lady from Colorado called the Butterball hotline about “how to thaw” her frozen Butterball. She proudly shared the fact that her turkey was stored in a snowbank outside! It had snowed the night before and it then dawned on her that she didn’t have a clue which snowbank her turkey was in. At that point, the conversation was really over because she was now on a mission to go find her turkey. Learn about one of our favorite ways to cook a turkey (hint: it’s in an oven bag!).
Help in a pinch
One caller had always cut the legs off the turkey before putting it in the oven thinking that was how you had to cook a turkey. She later learned that the only reason her mom had been doing that was because their oven had been so small that that was the only way to get the bird into the oven!
Wash, rinse, and never repeat
A first-time Thanksgiving chef called Marge Klindera, a 20+ year Talk-Line veteran, in tears one Thanksgiving morning. She was so proud to have thawed the turkey successfully and continued to rinse the turkey—with dish soap! The tears started flowing when the turkey wouldn’t stop sudsing. If only she called before she would have found out you don’t have to rinse the turkey—just pat it dry with paper towels. Do less guesswork this Thanksgiving and learn exactly how much turkey to make per person.
Having lost power an hour into roasting, a woman called the Butterball hotline for advice on how to finish safely. Little did the Talk-Line know that the caller’s adventurous neighbor had crashed into a power line while hang gliding, leaving the whole neighborhood without power. The caller was able to transfer her turkey to a gas grill to finish cooking, but Turkey Talk-Line couldn’t save Thanksgiving for the hang glider, who spent the rest of his holiday in the ER. Safety comes first in the kitchen, too. Experts agree that if you stop making these kitchen mistakes you’ll be a better and safer chef.
Keeping it cooking
One mom called in to share how her little girl had asked if they could slow-roast the turkey for three or four days because she liked how it made the house smell. The experts at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line told her that the turkey should only stay in the oven for a few hours and that it wasn’t a good idea to leave it cooking for four days!
It’s a wrap
A proud gentleman called to tell the staff how he wrapped his turkey in a towel and stomped on it several times, breaking the bones so it would fit in his pan. Instead of crushing it, learn how to spatchcock a turkey the right way.
When a Talk-Line staffer asked a caller what state her turkey was in (meaning how thawed was it) the caller responded with, “Florida.” If you like these funny Butterball hotline conversations, you’ll also laugh at these food jokes almost everyone will find funny.
Keeping up the ruse
The wife of a chef called in, ready to spend their first Thanksgiving together as a married couple. Her husband was convinced she was a great cook … but only because she’d been sneaking restaurant meals into pots and pans before her husband got back for the “homemade” meals. She didn’t want the magic to end on Thanksgiving, so she pulled off the special meal with advice from the Butterball hotline.
The secret ingredient
A Kentucky mother had followed Butterball’s instructions for roasting a turkey, and everything seemed to be going smoothly. The bird came out of the oven golden-brown, but there was a strange, bright red color when she started to carve it. Turns out her son had helped her “season” the turkey with Legos, and she wanted to know if it was still safe to eat. Did you know that you can wash Legos in a washing machine?
Is this thing done?
One woman was getting worried. Her turkey had been in the oven for seven hours and was still only 140°F, when Butterball recommends cooking it to 165°F or 180°F. The Talk-Line operator figured there was no way it was still undercooked and asked the caller to take it out of the oven and try carving it. Suddenly, there was a burst of laughter in the background. “When she went to pick the turkey up and put on the carving board, the whole thing just disintegrated into pieces,” the operator says. “It wasn’t that the turkey wasn’t done, it was the thermometer that wasn’t working, and it had just been cooked until it was practically falling apart.”
“How do I make gravy?” asked one man. The question wouldn’t be so strange if it hadn’t been for the suitcase he was rolling down the sidewalk. Inside was a fresh-out-of-the-oven turkey that he was bringing to his mom’s house. By the way, here’s how to make gravy from scratch.
Mum’s the word
Two sisters called from a strange location: the closet of the spare bedroom. They were in charge of making Thanksgiving dinner for the first time and didn’t want their mom to know they needed advice from the Butterball hotline.
Getting into hot water
A 16-pound turkey can take longer than expected to thaw, so one caller put the frozen bird in the hot tub and called to ask how long until it was ready to eat, according to Esquire. The answer: never. Letting it defrost in cold water—without heat and jacuzzi chemicals—is the way to go. Check out our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes of all time.
Lost and found
“We had one mom call, and she was stuffing the turkey, and the kids had their little Matchbox cars, and they would park them in the garage, so to speak,” Talk-Line co-director Sue Smith told Esquire. “So they went to carve the turkey and found the cars in the stuffing.” The kids were thrilled to find the toys they thought they’d lost, but the mother was more concerned with food safety. The stuffing had to be thrown out, but luckily, the turkey got the green light.
A couple’s oven kept turning off while it was preheating, so they called in to find out if they could use the grill as a plan B, according to Esquire. The Talk-Line adviser said it was a great option and stayed on the line with the wife while her husband fired up the grill. Before they moved the turkey outside, the wife realized the problem: The dog kept jumping up and turning off the oven. Now that you know about these Butterball hotline calls, find out the secrets for hosting a warm, meaningful Thanksgiving this year.