I'll never forget my grandmother teaching me how to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner when I was just 5 years old. It included taking the frozen bird from the freezer and placing him into a bathtub with some nice warm water. "Can he have bubbles?" I asked my grandma.
The Butterball Hotline experts have heard it all -- from preventing dryness in your bird, to the best spices to use, basting and frying tips, and possibly even what to do if your granddaughter puts bubbles in the tub while your turkey thaws.
Since 1981, the experts at Butterball have been on hand to help first-timers and even Thanksgiving experts trying something new. Today, it has grown to more than 50-plus experts who answer more than 100,000 questions throughout November and December. The hotline isn't the only place to find help either; you can tweet questions or find them on Pinterest and Instagram. They even accommodate Spanish-speaking cooks and brought on their first male expert, because sometimes dudes only want to admit failure to other dudes.
Here are some of the weirdest questions the Butterball Hotline ever received:
1. I left the bird in the snowbank to thaw and now I can't find it. Now what??
Dude, snow is frozen water. Who thought it would be a good idea to thaw a bird in the snow. Leave the snow for your beer and champagne bottles like normal people. If you don't have enough space in your freezer for the turkey and you throw him in the snowbank, maybe move him to a memorable spot before an upcoming blizzard or stick a flag in so he doesn't get lost.
2. I left my turkey in the car overnight. Is it still OK to eat?
Someone forgot to bring in all the groceries and didn't want his wife to know. Turns out, unless it was still cold enough outside to match your refrigerator temperature inside the car, the bird is probably not safe to use. Should have left him in the snowbank.
3. I carved my turkey with a chainsaw… is the chain grease going to adversely affect my turkey?
You laugh, but I'm fairly certain someone in my family has probably tried this once. It might sound like a good idea at the time, especially if you're six beers in, but no. Consuming any type of motor oil is a bad idea. Try one of those fancy electric carving knives you only use twice a year, or follow this helpful guide to how to sharpen your knife. Butterball says you should wait 20 minutes after cooking before you start carving because it'll make things easier.
4. Can I baste my turkey with suntan lotion?
Seriously?! Do you drink your suntan lotion? Forget it... No. Just... please, don't do it.
5. Can I poke holes all over the turkey and pour a can of beer over it to keep it moist?
When you put your bird in a baking bag it makes its own awesome juices that are great for making gravy. Anything you place in the bag with the bird will add flavor. Throw in some veggies, even a green apple. You shouldn't need to puncture the bird for the stuff in the bag to flavor your bird or keep it moist. Beer? You can always try it, but I wouldn't put the whole can in there, maybe just pour a little over the top and in the cavity of the bird. But don't use the juices for gravy if you're going that route. Instead try making this beer gravy from the Brooklyn Brew Shop.
6. The family dog is inside the turkey and can't get out....?
True story, a few years back Butterball got a call from a Chihuahua owner whose dog climbed inside the raw bird while her back was turned. I guess you've got to cut it off? Start with the thin skin on the sides and then pry the breast from the top. Theoretically, this could also work if your drunk uncle sticks the bird on his head.
7. I'm a truck driver. Can I cook the turkey on the engine block of my semi while I'm driving? If I drive faster, will it cook faster?
No. Just... no.
8. Is it OK if I break the bones so it'll fit in the pan?
Face-palm... A man called the Butterball Hotline to let them know about his genius idea that helped him fit his bird in the pan. He covered his turkey with a towel and then stomped on it several times to break the bones and flatten it. Here's an idea: move your oven rack down so the bird isn't close to the heating element and it will fit. Breaking the bones is dangerous because when you slice the bird you're not going to know if you got the meat off without bones in it. Puncturing your guests' throat or choking them isn't a recipe for a good meal.
9. Can I slow roast the turkey for three or four days?
One woman called in because her little girl loved the way the turkey made her house smell. She wondered if she could make it linger by keeping the bird in the oven cooking slowly for several days. The answer? Not unless you want to dry it out and burn it or possibly set the bird and your house on fire. If you love the smell of turkey so much, make several of them over the course of the week leading up to the holiday and then take them to the local homeless shelter.
10. It’s my first Thanksgiving and I have a tiny apartment-size oven… how much will my turkey expand when cooking?
Honey, your turkey isn't a batch of muffins. If it fits, you'll be fine. If, however, you have one of those super-small NYC apartment ovens that you likely store your laundry in, look for a turkey that is only the breast. They're much smaller and have all of the wings and legs cut off.
11. Can you thaw a frozen turkey using an electric hair dryer?
A hair dryer might get a little too hot and melt the plastic, plus it's going to take forever. Think ahead and transfer the bird from the freezer to the fridge well in advance. He'll be just fine there. If you are procrastinating, put him in a nice bath in the sink or the bathtub. If you're going to shower with him still in the tub, just make sure he's still wrapped in the plastic with no punctures.
12. Can you thaw a frozen turkey by wrapping it in an electric blanket?
I guess theoretically you could, but it's probably not the best idea. Melting ice makes water and water and electricity are not compatible. Seriously, just put the damn thing in the sink.
- "Should I remove the plastic wrap before I cook my turkey?"
- "I don’t want to touch the giblets. Can I fish them out with a coat hanger?"
- "The turkey in my freezer is 23 years old. Is it safe to eat?"
- "I scrubbed my raw turkey with a toothbrush dipped in bleach for three hours. Is that enough to kill the harmful bacteria?"
- "How do I roast my turkey so it gets golden brown tan lines — in the shape of a turkey bikini?"
- "Why does my turkey have no breast meat?"
If you're in a crisis this holiday and you need help, pick up the phone and call 1-800-Butterball (800-288-8372). Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!
Check out President Bartlet from the old TV show "The West Wing" calling the Butterball Hotline below: