For the first time ever, struggling Thanksgiving hosts can contact Butterball's iconic help line via text with questions about preparing turkey.
Butterball, which sells roughly 1 billion pounds of the bird a year, has been helping people cook turkey since 1981 when it began hosting a help line you could call. This is the first year you'll be able to contact the help line by sending a text message to 1-800-BUTTERBALL. The text line will be open 24/7 from Nov. 17 through Nov. 24.
"We're just evolving based on consumers' needs," said Sue Smith, Butterball's talk line codirector who has been manning the phones for 17 years. "It's the natural progression for the talk line."
The company employs roughly 50 experts to answer more than 100,000 calls every November and December.
As the volume of calls has increased, Smith and codirector Nicole Johnson say that Butterball has worked to open up more channels of communication.
While this is the first year Butterball is communicating via text, the company has started using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube videos to help panicked cooks. The company has Spanish-speaking turkey experts on the line. As the company noticed an influx of men calling in with turkey questions, it hired more male talk line experts.
Ultimately, Smith and Johnson say that even as technology has evolved, most queries from callers are the same year after year.
Some forget to thaw their turkeys. Others don't know how big of a bird to buy, or simply have no idea of how to roast the bird. A few call every year for reassurance. Smith said one woman has called every Thanksgiving for the last 20 years for a one-on-one pep talk.
No matter the problem, Johnson, Smith, and 48 other Butterball employees will all be working for at least eight hours on Thanksgiving Day, manning the phones to answer your questions, whether they come via call or text.