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Can a decades-old turkey tip line teach us about human connection?

Can a how-to-make a turkey tip line shed light on human connection, considering 20% are celebrating Thanksgiving alone or not at all?
Can a decades-old turkey tip line teach us about human connection?
Posted at 3:03 PM, Nov 19, 2023

Deep-fried or baked in the oven, making a Thanksgiving turkey comes with a seemingly never-ending list of tips and tricks.

And if you need a little help with your holiday meal, Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line has been available to take your calls since 1981.

"Regardless of the cook method that you choose, you want to make sure that your best friend on Thanksgiving Day is your meat thermometer", says Nicole Johnson, director of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.

The talk-line experts say they answer roughly 100,000 questions each year. Questions like how to thaw a turkey and what to do if the oven stops working.

The Talk-Line fires up at the beginning of November, and dozens of experts man the phones through Christmas. But in the age of the internet, a traditional phone call isn't the only way to get help with your holiday meal.

"We're also available through texts, which is, you know, these times right, chat email social media", says Samantha Woulfe, a Butterball Turkey Talk-Line expert.

The holidays are, for so many, centered around community. Which is something the turkey experts say has kept the talk line going all these years.

SEE MORE: It might be time to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey

"Our brains are wired for social connectivity", says professor of counseling psychology, Dr. Tim Smith.

According to Nicole Johnson, Butterball conducted a survey and found that 20% of people are celebrating Thanksgiving alone or not at all. 

A lack of social connection can have devastating effects, with some doctors likening the health impact to smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Earlier this year, the U.S. Surgeon General labeled loneliness an epidemic.

"There are things that we can do that increase our connection with other people. And it takes time and it takes effort, kind of like it takes time and it takes effort to stop smoking", says Dr. Tim Smith, Brigham Young University professor.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says some of the health issues linked to loneliness include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and premature death.

"Part of the secret here is to make a community wherever we go", says Dr. Tim Smith.

That sense of community is also important to Talk-Line experts.

"We actually love to do our job here. You know, if we didn't love it, we wouldn't do it. We're here on Thanksgiving Day, all of us", says Bill Nolan, Butterball Turkey Talk-Line Supervisor.

If you need any help with your holiday cooking, the Talk-Line number is 1-800-BUTTERBALL.


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