Meet the People Answering the Phone at Butterball's Turkey Hotline

Meet the People Answering the Phone at Butterball's Turkey Hotline

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Ariel Knutson
Nov 20, 2014
Karen Wilcher and Chris Clem, turkey talk-line experts
(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line opens the first Monday in November and stays in business until Christmas day. During this time the Talk-Line will receive upwards of three million calls, ranging from the easy-to-answer questions to the totally insane. It takes a lot of knowledge, training, and care to field so many calls about turkey, so you have to really love it.

Learn more about what it takes to be a Butterball Talk-Line expert and a few of their favorite types of callers.

(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

What's the Turkey Talk-Line?

Butterball University usually starts in October. Potential Talk-Line experts go through a course where they make a few turkeys and master the info in a two-inch binder of materials. It is the hope that all the answers that Talk-Line experts give are consistent.

The Talk-Line receives three million calls a season from all over the United States and elsewhere around the world; about 25% of the people who call the Talk-Line are men.

Marsha Barnish, Social Media Manager
(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

The calls that the Turkey Talk-Line receives are generally short, around five minutes. The longest call any of the Talk-Line experts have ever had was upwards of twenty minutes. The Talk-Line has been around since 1981, but they've expanded past the phone; new resources now include online chat, social media, and an app. All of this is free — to everyone. You don't have to have a Butterball turkey sitting in your fridge to call and get some free advice on Thanksgiving.

Sue Smith, director of Butterball Turkey Talk-Line
(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

Trends and concerns from callers or the "turkey trauma" as it's called at the university, seems to change year-to-year. Deep-frying turkey seems to be on the rise, and using oven bags has been fairly popular for some time.

Meet the People Who Answer the Phone

The people who answer the phone at Butterball say they wear many hats: they are counselors, they are moms, they are friends. You can tell that everyone who works at the Turkey Talk-Line just really loves what they do. Supervisor and Talk-Line expert Marge Klindera, for example, has been with Butterball for 33 years, since just two years after the hotline opened.

The Talk-Line experts say it's the callers that make them happy to work there. For the most part everyone that calls into Butterball is grateful and happy for the help. You get people who call who are hosting a Friendsgiving on a college campus, or family members that are trying to settle a bet about how to cook a turkey. There was even an instance of a 92-year-old man whose wife passed away in the last year and was attempting to cook a turkey for the first time. He still wanted to host Thanksgiving and make a turkey for his family.

Have you ever called the Butterball turkey hotline? What was your experience with the person who answered the phone?

Marge Klindera, supervisor and Talk-Line expert
(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)
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