19 Funny Thanksgiving Help-Line Calls You’ll Be Glad You Didn’t Make

Your turkey troubles are nothing compared to these.

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Saving Thanksgiving

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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 outlandish tales of Turkey Day mishaps, and fielded some truly bewildering questions. Following are a few favorite conversations from the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. And if you need help this holiday season with your bird, don't forget to call 1-800-BUTTERBALL. (Looking for a stress-free Thanksgiving? Get our FREE guide for an unforgettable Thanksgiving. You'll get easy recipes, kid-friendly crafts and games, inspiring traditions, and more ideas for the best holiday yet.)

Double duty

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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 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 bath water would be an acceptable method for thawing the turkey. (Related: Here are funny Thanksgiving quotes to share around the table.)

Turkey treasure

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After discovering a turkey from 1969 in his dad’s freezer, an Alabama man called the Talk-Line 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. (Related: Here are tips for buying the perfect turkey.)

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Sun-kissed feast

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Some holiday chefs take extreme measures to please all guests. A caller was e-mailed 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!

Mother-in-law knows best

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One woman called the Talk-Line 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). Read these fixes for mistakes you'll probably make this Thanksgiving.

Food baby

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A few hours after his wife had give birth, a new dad called 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.

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Third time's a charm

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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, 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 simple answers to the most-asked Thanksgiving questions.)

All in the family

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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. (Related: Stop falling for these Thanksgiving myths that everyone believes.)

Santa’s helpers

iStock/Pamela Moore

Even Santa has Turkey Day questions—he and his wife called the help line 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.

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Borrowed time

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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. Check out these genius ways you never thought to use a turkey baster.

Tools of the trade

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Another gentleman called to tell the operator he cut his turkey in half with a chain saw and wanted to know if the oil from the chain would adversely affect the turkey.

Flipping for turkey

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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. (Related: Here are health benefits of gratitude to take advantage of this Thanksgiving.)

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The great turkey expansion

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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.

Snow day

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A lady from Colorado called about “how to thaw” her frozen Butterball. She proudly shared the fact that her turkey was stored in a snow bank outside! It had snowed the night before and it then dawned on her that she didn’t have a clue which snow bank her turkey was in. At that point, the conversation was really over because she was now on a mission to go find her turkey.

Help in a pinch

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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!

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Wash, rinse, and never repeat

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A first-time Thanksgiving chef called Marge Klindera, a 20+ year Talk-Line veteran, in tears Thanksgiving morning last year. 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.

Not-so-smooth sailing

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Having lost power an hour into roasting, a woman called the Talk-Line 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. (Related: Here's a foolproof guide to grilling.)

Keeping it cooking

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One mom called in and told us about 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!

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It's a wrap

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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. Check out these quick fixes for Thanksgiving dinner mistakes.

State bird

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When a Talk-Line staffer asked a caller what state her turkey was in (meaning how thawed was it) the caller responded with, “Florida.”


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