Talk Turkey to Me


Put down that phone!

The Thanksgiving Talk-Line is so old school.
The real action this Thanksgiving will be on laptops and smart phones. Even the Butterball phone line ladies will be twittering.

Online search volume for cooking tips and recipes starts to build in early November, reaching a fever pitch by the week of Thanksgiving. Last year, in the days leading up to the holiday, 785,000 people searched for turkey recipes on; by Thanksgiving Day, the site was logging one million page views an hour. The volume is so great that cooking sites build their server capacity around that single day, seldom needing more than 50% during the rest of the year.

Codifying and analyzing. In other words, prying and snooping.
A byproduct of all this online action is the flood of data about our holiday cooking and dining habits.
Here’s a culinary snapshot of America on its biggest cooking day of the year.

Oregon residents eat more Tofurkey per capita than the rest of, and more New Yorkers are looking for caterers to do the heavy lifting than anywhere else.

Deep-fried turkey continues to win converts, with almost a 200% increase in inquiries last year. Brining, though, is waning.

Cheeseballs are hot in the Midwest, and sweet potato casseroles are the runaway favorite in North Carolina. Last year’s breakout hit was refrigerated breadstick dough baked in a cornucopia mold. We’ll be watching for this year’s surprise.

The top pie? By a large margin that would be pumpkin, except in Wisconsin where more people are searching for apple pie recipes, and in Mississippi where pecan pie rules. With relatively few pie crust searches throughout the Southeastern United States, you might conclude that they don’t like pie; I’m betting that they eat so much pie that they know the recipes by heart.

The one thing that unifies us as a nation is our propensity to procrastinate (especially in Chicago where cooks are more prone to 11th hour searches than anywhere else). The Thanksgiving Day cooking frenzy can be tracked hour-by-hour as we start with stuffing searches at 10 a.m., try to parse the side dishes in late morning, and tackle the mashed potatoes in the afternoon. There is a last minute scramble for gravy, with recipe searches peaking at 3 p.m. But we all know how tricky that gravy can be; it’s like kryptonite to the home cook.

Here’s where you can go for help:

Get organized

The Food Network’s In The Kitchen iPhone app has menu ideas, shopping lists, timers, and measurement converters.

Turkey tips

U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline: (888) 674-6854 or

Butterball Turkey Talk-Line: (800) BUTTERBALL or

Empire Kosher poultry customer hot line: (717) 436-7055 or

The cranberries

Ocean Spray consumer help line: (800) 662-3263 or


King Arthur Flour Co.’s Bakers Hotline: (802) 649-3717 or e-mail questions to bakers(at)

Nestle Toll House Baking Information Line: (800) 637-8537 or

Fleischmann’s Yeast Baker’s Help Line: (800) 777-4959 or

General cooking help

Martha Stewart will be fielding listener call-ins (866-675-6675) during 30 hours of radio programming in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Epicurious features thousands of Thanksgiving recipes from Gourmet and Bon App├ętit.

See what’s new on allrecipes, the site that brought us last year’s breadstick cornucopia extravaganza.


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5 Responses to Talk Turkey to Me

  1. Knowing how to make pie dough is a southern thing and southerners love their sweets and their pies. Pecan pie for this PAer!

    I can’t believe brining is on its way out. It is almost fool proof and guarantees a moist tasty bird. We have been doing it for years and probably won’t stop now.

    Chicago procrastinates. Funny.

    Great info.

  2. Ohh I saw an episode of some food show a few months ago featuring a Deep Fried Turkey takeout place!! That must be starting to gain some momentum now eh?? Although it just feels so wrong… and so unhealthy.. but I bet the turkey tastes very moist and a lot quicker to cook deep fried.

  3. Monet says:

    What a great post! I loved hearing about all the turkey day statistics. I love pumpkin but I will always take an apple pie! Thank you for sharing. I hope you have a beautiful day tomorrow!

  4. Janice says:

    It’s all downhill after the gravy.

  5. I *think* I am going to be okay with prepping T-giving dinner, but just in case, I will keep all the helplines (and websites and twitters) in mind!

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