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Butterball hotline staffer recalls strange calls, offers important turkey cooking advice

The Butterball Hotline has answered thousands of questions about turkey over the years. However, some calls are stranger than others.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The clock is ticking on Thanksgiving dinner. If you find yourself wondering what next to do before cooking your turkey, Butterball is staffing phones to help.

The company has a turkey talk line set up to answer any questions about cooking Thanksgiving's most popular entrée.

The Butterball Hotline has become almost a Thanksgiving tradition itself. It was even featured in a famous scene from NBC's 'The West Wing,' during which President Bartlett calls the hotline with a question about stuffing his turkey.

Jan is a Butterball worker, who says she has been working the hotline for 36 years. In her more than three decades, she said she has answered numerous questions. After about 15 minutes on hold, Jan shared some of her turkey advice.

She says if its the night before Thanksgiving, there is still time to thaw a frozen turkey.

"If you didn't thaw your turkey in advance, you can still thaw it outside of refrigerator in cold water," Jan explained. "Leave it in its original wrapper, submerge it in cold water, breast side down, and change the water every 30 minutes."

For example, Jan said a 10-pound turkey could thaw in five hours.

The strangest call Jan received was from a woman in Colorado.

"She didn't have room for the turkey in the refrigerator so she put it outside," Jan remembered. "There was a snowstorm overnight so the next day she couldn't find her turkey because wherever she walked to put it, the path was no longer there."

Another story Jan remembers fondly is from a woman who hosted her first Thanksgiving with her parents and her new parents-in-law, all of who tried giving her advice on how to cook the turkey.

“She was confused because she didn’t know, and she was trying to please everybody," Jan recalled. "She was so confused she finally went in the closet and called for help."

While there are various methods to cooking a turkey, Jan says her favorite method is to grill the bird, but roasting a turkey in the oven at 325 degrees is always a safe bet.

The number one recommendation she makes is for consumers to have a meat thermometer.

"People are so grateful that you're helping them. People say 'God bless you,' 'I love you,' 'If I was there, I'd hug you and kiss you.' Well maybe not with COVID right now," Jan said. "People are so, so happy you can help them and its so nice to make a difference in someone's celebration by giving them some helpful advice," Jan says.

You can call 1 (800) BUTTERBALL (288-8372) or check out Butterball's website for turkey tips.