Who is Astrid Volpert? And Other Questions for the Butterball Turkey Hotline

Not the actual turkey hotline (image courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives)

I’ve just heard some exciting news — just in time for Thanksgiving, Butterball has launched a turkey recipe app. At just $4.99, Butterball Cookbook Plus sounds like a real godsend for anyone who owns an iPhone and doesn’t know how to cook a turkey or look things up on Google.

If you have turkey-related questions and don’t own an iPhone, don’t despair. You can still call the Butterball turkey hotline, which “employs more than 50 professionally trained, college-educated home economists and nutritionists” to answer questions — which is exactly what I need, because I don’t have an iPhone, and I do have some questions. Like these:

1. Who is Astrid Volpert? She’s listed as a Butterball turkey expert, but when I click on her link, I get an error message. Some independent research led me to her website, which offers no evidence of any formal turkey-related training whatsoever. I don’t think she even speaks English.

2. The wish I made on last year’s Butterball turkey wishbone didn’t come true. When can I expect my refund?

3. What’s the capital of Turkey?

4. Remember that story about the woman who kills her husband by hitting him over the head with a frozen leg of lamb and then cooks it and serves it to the detectives who come out to investigate the murder? Do you think that would work with a turkey? Asking for a friend.

5. A turkey, a giraffe, and an otter walk into a bar. Who gets served first?

6. Help! I have a dog, a cat, a baby, a roasted turkey, and a bottle of wine in the kitchen, and I need to move them all to the dining room. I can’t leave the cat alone with the dog, I can’t leave the cat or the dog alone with the turkey, I can’t leave the baby alone at all, and it’s probably best not to leave me alone with the wine. The cat and the dog can walk. The dog will go where I tell him to, but the cat just does whatever he wants. I can carry any two items at a time except for the cat, who won’t let me pick him up. What should I do?

7. If I drop an 18-pound turkey and a 2-pound Cornish game hen off the top of the Empire State Building at the same time, what crime will I be charged with? Does it matter if the turkey is frozen?

8. If someone calls the hotline and asks a question about a turducken, do you hang up 1/3 of the way through the call?

9. Can I come work for you? Answering turkey questions seems like it could be fun, at least until the novelty wears off, at which point I’d probably just start making stuff up. That wouldn’t be a problem, would it?

10. Does this stuffing make my drumsticks look fat?

Do you have any turkey- or holiday-related questions or concerns? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer.

26 thoughts on “Who is Astrid Volpert? And Other Questions for the Butterball Turkey Hotline

  1. I love number 6, I can’t solve it though.

    I suggest drinking the wine then waiting for social services to come and take the baby away from a drunken mother….no, I’m stuck now as the dog and the cat ate the turkey in your drunken stupour.

    Ok, plan B, pour the wine down the toilet so the dog will go and drink it, then , damn it, the cat’s eaten the turkey whilst you were in the bathroom….

    This is a tough conundrum.

    1. Hmmm. You may be on to something. Instead of that bag of giblets, they could put a heating element inside the turkey, and then you could use your phone to control it.

      Um, I’ll be right back. I just need to run down to the patent office for a minute.

  2. We’ve always considered my sister-in-law something of a turkey. If we cook her this year does that mean we don’t have to invite her next?

    1. Cooking your sister-in-law on Thanksgiving is a really bad idea. Do you have any idea how long it takes to roast an entire human being? Many, many hours. And she’d take up the entire oven for all that time, so you wouldn’t have room to stick in a pie or some rolls or yams or anything.

  3. I am always astounded at the problems you fret about, Laura… ;-)

    If you ever contact the actual Turkey Hotline [SERIOUSLY? They *have* such a thing?] with those questions, would you post a recording on your blog? – It’s bound to have us in hysterics…

    In fact, I imagine they’ll end up playing it at their Customer Service And Public Relations Training Seminars… it might even end up in their FAQ list…

    1. I always thought of the Turkey Hotline as a quaint tradition dating back from the 1950s, but it turns out it didn’t even start until 1981. You’d think people would just look up information online these days, but apparently more people are calling now than ever.

  4. I have had enough pets I answer #6. What you do is you put the turkey back in the oven so the dog and cat can’t get to it.

    Then you carrying the baby, let the dog outside. Don’t let him back in. Then you lure/shoo the cat into the basement and leave him/her her holiday can of wet food.

    Then you sit the baby down in the dining room and bring in the turkey. Boom done. Ignore wails and barks while you eat.

  5. You’ve obviously never heard my cat’s wail — it’s impossible to ignore. He also hates my cooking, so the real danger in leaving him alone with the turkey is that he’ll ignore it and, by doing so, insult me.

  6. I think as to the story of the woman who kills her husband with the frozen leg of lamb (Hitchcock?) who then feeds it to the detectives… though you could maybe execute that move with a frozen turkey, you had better work out at the gym for a few months in order to be able to raise that 20 lb monster over your head to gain the proper ‘heavage’ for the kill.

    Just sayin’. I mean, for your ‘friend’.

    1. I know that story from the Hitchcock TV series, but during the course of my extensive research for this post, I learned that it was originally a short story by Roald Dahl.

      My, uh, friend buys cat litter in 25-pound buckets, so she’s not concerned about her ability to lift the turkey; she’s just worried about cooking it afterwards. I mean, it’ll still be frozen.

  7. Thank you for investigating Astrid Volpert’s qualifications. This smells like a scam to take advantage of the most vulnerable in our society – those with a half-frozen turkey and 27 critical relatives arriving in an hour.

  8. Not sure what rocks the most–the post or the comments. And I thought I was the only one with a cat who won’t eat my cooking (or any other people food for that matter). My solution for #6 was to hand the baby the bottle of wine since surely it will be safe there as everyone knows babies would never drink out of bottle, then leave the turkey in the pan and hitch the cat and dog to it, have them sled it into the dining room… oh heck? How are you to go back and get the baby? I know! Let the baby ride the turkey sled into the dining room and drink the bottle yourself. You may or may not enter the dining room yourself. I suggest staying in the kitchen until the nice men in the white coats coax you out.

    1. The comments are usually better than the posts here.

      Your sled suggestion reminds me of a hotel I stayed in once while at a conference for work. The hotel was known for having dogs that check out (like library books) to take for a walk. They also had this service you could buy where, if you were having a meeting in one of their meeting rooms, dogs would deliver snacks to you in the afternoon. Sadly, the people running our meetings didn’t choose that option, and whenever I asked to take a dog for a walk, there were none available — so, basically, the experience was just like staying in a hotel without dogs.

  9. I’m so late for this party but this was hilarious… all of it!

    In our family, we start our kids out on wine, so #6 would have an additional problem of trying to keep the baby from the wine. Our MO usually is to start drinking the wine before the baby gets it, ignore the dogs/cats until we trip over them later, and by the time we’ve moved onto the 3rd bottle of wine, we pretty much forget the turkey in the oven until the smoke alarm goes off much later.

    The problem becomes running out of wine and no one can figure out how to get more. The dogs and cats are pissed about their injuries so they just glare and don’t offer to get us more wine. It really can be a problem.

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