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 allrecipes.com; 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:
The Food Network’s In The Kitchen iPhone app has menu ideas, shopping lists, timers, and measurement converters.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline: (888) 674-6854 or http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/index.asp
Butterball Turkey Talk-Line: (800) BUTTERBALL or http://www.butterball.com
Empire Kosher poultry customer hot line: (717) 436-7055 or http://www.empirekosher.com/index.htm
Ocean Spray consumer help line: (800) 662-3263 or http://www.oceanspray.com
King Arthur Flour Co.’s Bakers Hotline: (802) 649-3717 or e-mail questions to bakers(at)kingarthurflour.com
Nestle Toll House Baking Information Line: (800) 637-8537 or http://verybestbaking.com
Fleischmann’s Yeast Baker’s Help Line: (800) 777-4959 or http://www.breadworld.com/help.aspx
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 Appétit.
See what’s new on allrecipes, the site that brought us last year’s breadstick cornucopia extravaganza.