Butterball re-launches 24-hour hotline, Twitter support for confused cooks

Butterball, probably the most recognized turkey brand in the US, has kicked into Thanksgiving high-gear with a 24-hour hotline for turkey thawing, cooking and slicing dilemmas that may occur in the middle of the night.

The turkey hotline has been a Butterball feature for nearly 30 years, with calls jumping from 11,000 the first year of operation to 200,000 each Thanksgiving now. (The line is manned with food experts, half of whom hold a Master’s degree in some food-related discipline.) But the advice service for those cooking turkey, something many Americans only do on Thanksgiving, has expanded in recent years to reach out to a more tech-savvy audience.

The staple brand is coaching customers on Twitter, offering tips like using oil instead of butter to brown the bird to avoid burning “milk solids.” Facebook users can also reach Butterball support staff on their page, where wall conversations are currently addressing issues like turkey brining, a practice that has become popular in recent years due to geek cooking icon Alton Brown. (Butterball says brining their turkeys is unnecessary, but offers directions on Facebook to those who wish to brine their turkeys anyway.)

Butterball’s use of social media is a good case study for more established brands to model, as it balances an established identity with effective use of the services very well. Consumerist managed to get a list of the five most absurd questions asked of the turkey experts each year, which was as follows:

*Is it okay to thaw my turkey in the bathtub while bathing my kids?

*Can I brine my turkey in the washing machine?

*Can I use my oven’s self-cleaning cycle to speed up the cooking process?

*If I cut my turkey with a chainsaw will the oil affect the taste?

*Can I take my frozen turkey into my sauna to thaw it faster?

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