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Help Lines Hear Thanksgiving Horror Tales


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Help Lines Hear Thanksgiving Horror Tales

By BETSY TAYLOR

Associated Press Writer

November 19, 2004, 6:29 PM EST

ST. LOUIS -- Concerned about cooking that Thanksgiving turkey? Just keep in mind that if you don't slice the bird with a chain saw, stomp on it to make it fit in a pan or lose it in a snowdrift, you'll already be doing better than some other Americans.

Cooks who have questions about how to prepare the seasonal feast have long been able to call help lines, offered by turkey producers, schools or others looking to provide assistance. But sometimes, the turkey traumas on Thanksgiving have even the experts stumped.

Mary Clingman serves as director of the Butterball Turkey Talk Line in Downers Grove, Ill. It expects to take more than 100,000 inquiries through Christmas.

Some past callers stand out.

"We got a call from a guy last year whose turkey wouldn't fit in his pan. He wrapped it in a towel and stomped on it until it did," Clingman said.

Another caller cut a turkey in half with a chain saw, then worried that oil on the saw might have transferred onto the turkey. A woman in Colorado who left her turkey outside to keep it frozen realized she couldn't find it when more snow fell.

And one phone call began: "You don't know anything about kitty litter, do you?" Clingman said a woman called after her husband poured kitty litter on the bottom of a new grill in hopes of absorbing drippings. Fortunately, the grill hadn't been lit yet, so the turkey was pulled off and cooked more conventionally, she said.

Kathy Bernard with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Hotline in Beltsville, Md., said a caller last year wanted to make her bird inside a roasting bag, but didn't have one, so had improvised.

"She pulled a dry cleaning bag off her husband's suit, and it melted onto the bird," Bernard said.

Chris Whaley, a spokeswoman for Perdue in Salisbury, Md., said people should keep in mind that the Thanksgiving meal can be as simple or as complicated as they'd like it to be.

"I do believe it's reassuring to know not everyone's done it perfectly over the years," she said.

* ___

Butterball Turkey Talk Line: 1-800-288-8372

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-800-535-4555

Perdue Consumer Help Line: 1-800-473-7383

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press

newsday.com

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