When Turkeys Strike Back


The star of the Thanksgiving meal, the turkey, is often maligned for its stupidity. However, the people trying to cook them aren’t always the sharpest knives in the carving block, either. Think of it as a form of revenge. Fear the turkey!

flameTurkeys, humans, and fire

There are almost as many ways to cook a turkey as there are lame jokes in Uncle Harold’s repertoire, right? Bake, broil, brine, deep-fry, spatch-cock…in other words, loads of potential for messing up the centerpiece of the meal so that dad has to run out to the 7-Eleven for a pack of hot dogs.

Since 1981, Butterball has operated a telephone helpline on Thanksgiving, with real people to talk to when all hell’s breaking loose. (Turkey-wise, that is. They can’t do anything about the heavy-metal boyfriend your daughter brought home, or the passive-aggressive brother-in-law you have to deal with every year).

The Butterball folks get some crazy questions from callers: how to clean out chainsaw oil residue after trying to cut a frozen turkey in half (nope, go get hot dogs), how long it takes to pop popcorn inside the turkey’s cavity while the bird is roasting (an old myth – and you can’t), whether a frozen turkey can be thawed with a hair dryer (no), how to get a chihuahua unstuck from inside a turkey (before it went in the oven, thankfully)…the list goes on.

And then there are the fires. According to State Farm Insurance Company, more cooking fires happen on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year. Most occur when folks decide it’s a good idea to submerge a 20-pound turkey in a vat of boiling oil. (If you fry your turkey, don’t send me hate mail. I’m sure there’s a safe way to do it, but I watched too many turkey-fryer disaster videos while preparing this post).

State Farm compiled cooking-fire data between 2007 and 2011 to come up with a Top 10 list of states that have had the most fires on Thanksgiving, based on number of claims.

Want to see the list? Me, too.

Top 10 States Most Likely to Bring Firefighters to Your Door on Thanksgiving:firetruck

#10 South Carolina

#9 Minnesota

#8 Pennyslvania

#7 Louisiana

#6 California

#5 Florida

#4 Ohio

#3 New York

#2 Illinois

…and the #1 state for the most turkey fires:



Source: http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2012/11/21/top-10-us-states-for-turkey-fryer-fires

What do you think of this list? Any states that surprised you? Any you’d like to nominate?


So this Thanksgiving, count yourself lucky to successfully cook your bird without the help of your local fire department! But don’t forget to baste it (because it’s “All About That Baste”):


Want more Thanksgiving? Check out these posts about the holiday as it was celebrated in the 19th century:

President McKinley’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Selecting a Turkey, 1880s style

Turkey and Football, 1899

Kalamazoo celery

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving


How do you like to cook your turkey? Has the fire department ever paid you a visit on Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes for a safe and Happy Thanksgiving,


5 people like this post.

15 thoughts on “When Turkeys Strike Back”

  1. Kassandra LambKassandra Lamb

    ROFL Love the video. Shared on Facebook!! Happy Thanksgiving, Kathy!

  2. Margot KinbergMargot Kinberg

    Oh, that video’s priceless, Kathy! And I can imagine those Butterball people have heard some weird things… Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

  3. Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2)Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2)

    A chihuahua INSIDE a turkey? The video was okay but the list from Butterball was priceless! Thanks for the laughs, Kathy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. PatriciaPatricia

    BBQ turkey is – in my opinion – the very best. We use hickory chips so it has a nice smoky flavor. The skin gets all crisp and brown but the meat is juicy and flavorful. I may try brining sometime. I hear that’s very good as well.

    And no the fire department has not paid a visit to my home on any holiday. Thank the good lord above.

    Have a very happy Thanksgiving, Missy.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  5. Julie GloverJulie Glover

    I recently told a young woman who was cooking turkey for the first time about the Butterball hotline. She had no idea it existed. I hope she doesn’t need it!

    And yes, I was quite surprised to see my state in the number one spot. You’d think we Texans would have frying down to perfection by now! Maybe if we switched to serving rattlesnake sausage or alligator (yes, I’ve had both), we’d be okay. 😉

  6. PhilPhil

    Too funny. I’m surprised that my New York is ranked #3!

    Maybe that’s why I head to the burbs and let my relatives do the cooking.

    Here’s wishing you and yours a terrific Thanksgiving!

  7. Kathy WallerkKathy Wallerk

    I am ever so relieved to learn that Texas is #1 in turkey fires, because we’ve had such a hard time with that #1 thing since Alaska entered the Union. (That year, my fourth-grade music teacher had to change a word in our state song before we could present our program for the PTA.)

    I feel a responsibility to warn my fellow Texans of the peril they’re in, so with your permission (I hope), I’ll reblog your post. And when driving to the restaurant where I intend to order steak, I’ll watch out for firetrucks.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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