Have a crazy story about preparing a Thanksgiving turkey? The staff at Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line have plenty.
What started in 1981 as a group of six home economists answering calls has grown into a staff of more than 50 food and nutrition experts answering questions via phone, email, online chats and social media.
The hotline is open from early November to the day before Christmas and receives more than 100,000 questions per year. But, not surprisingly, the volume of questions peaks on Thanksgiving day, when the group answers more than 12,000 calls, Sue Smith, co-director of Butterball's Turkey Talk-line, told USA TODAY Network.
"It's probably the most fun day to work too. We all look forward to it," said Smith, who has worked the phones for 16 years.
At the conclusion of each holiday season, Butterball asks workers to recount memorable calls. Here are a few from over the years the company shared with USA TODAY Network:
• A mother returned home from work to find her husband thawing a frozen turkey in the bathtub while simultaneously washing up the kids. "The kids were like, 'The water's cold!' because, you know, it's a frozen turkey," Smith said.
• A woman called the Talk-Line whispering her questions. When asked to speak up, the newlywed explained she was hiding in the closet from her mother-in-law, whom she was trying to impress.
• A young man hosting his first Thanksgiving called the Talk-Line while in a grocery store. A turkey expert stayed on the phone as he walked the aisle, advising him of all the items he'd need to buy.
• A landlord called panicked because his oven was too small to cook a turkey. He eventually was able to "rent" one from a tenant for $25. He thought he'd have to interrupt them every 10 minutes to baste it, but called the Talk-Line to learn that Butterball turkeys come pre-basted.
• A woman lost power one hour into cooking her turkey and called the Talk-Line. The hotline talked her through transferring her turkey to her gas grill to continue cooking. What accounted for the outage? The caller's neighbor had crashed into a power line while hang gliding.
But not all calls are quite that dramatic.
"How do I thaw my turkey?" is the most commonly asked question, according to Smith. One way is to put it in your refrigerator several days before Thanksgiving. It take one day for every 4 pounds, Smith said. But if it's too late for that approach, the fastest way is to thaw it in water.
"You can soak it in cold water, in the original wrapper, breast side down in your sink. Submerge it in your sink and change the water every 30 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes per pound," Smith said.
And as for that frozen turkey in the bathtub? It wasn't a total loss. The turkey was still in its plastic wrapper and frozen so the family was able to thaw it in the sink and cook it, according to Smith.