Beyond Butterball: 7 Food Hotlines That Can Help You Out of a Kitchen Disaster

iStock/Kerkez
iStock/Kerkez

Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line (1-800-BUTTERBALL) is one of the biggest Thanksgiving helplines around, but it’s not the only show in town. Many companies now offer hotlines staffed with experts who want to help you prepare the best turkey possible—plus delectable side dishes and desserts. If you need a little help in the kitchen this Thanksgiving, here are a few other hotlines you can lean on.

1. USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline

Call 1-888-674-6854 or email MPHotline.fsis@usda.gov.
Thanksgiving hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (ET)

If you’re unsure how long to leave your turkey in the oven, call up the Department of Agriculture’s handy hotline. They can also answer questions about other types of meat, egg products, and food storage.

2. Jennie-O Turkey Helpline

Call 1-800-887-5397 or launch the live chat
Live chat hours: 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. (CST)

One of Butterball’s competitors, Jennie-O, also offers a helpline. Check out their live chat, which is ideal for cooks in need of some quick answers.

3. Honeysuckle White Turkey Helpline

Call 1-800-810-6325
Available 24 hours a day

Another turkey brand, Honeysuckle White, has a holiday hotline you can call with questions about how to select, prepare, and cook a turkey. The messages are pre-recorded, but they still might do the trick.

4. Food52 Digital Hotline

Visit the Food52 website
Thanksgiving hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET)

Amanda Hesser, former food editor for The New York Times Magazine, launched this website and Q&A forum in 2009 to help solve people’s cooking conundrums. Just post a question to the online forum, and you’ll get a prompt response from one of Food52’s editors—or perhaps even a notable food writer or chef.

5. Crisco Pie & Baking Hotline

Call 1-877-367-7438
Thanksgiving hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET)

All your pie-related problems will be resolved when you call up the Crisco hotline. A National Pie Championship winner and other baking experts will be on hand to answer questions.

6. Sara Lee Pie Hotline

Call 1-888-914-1247
Thanksgiving hours: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. (CST)

Sara Lee Desserts offers another option for people with pressing pie questions.

7. Ocean Spray Holiday Helpline

Call 1-800-662-3263
Thanksgiving hours: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (ET)

If you have a question about cranberry sauce—or other cranberry-infused creations—then this is the hotline to call.

The Disputed Origins of Publix’s Chicken Tender Subs

Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Josh Hallett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

After Popeyes released its new chicken sandwich last week, a heated battle broke out on Twitter over which fast food chain offers the best one. Favorites included Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and KFC, but the Publix chicken tender sub was mostly absent from the dialogue. Maybe it’s because Publix is a supermarket rather than a fast food restaurant, or maybe the southern chain is too specific to Florida and its neighboring states to warrant a national ranking.

Either way, the chicken tender sub is a cult culinary classic among Publix customers—there’s even an independently run website devoted to announcing when the subs are on sale (they aren’t right now), and affiliated Facebook and Twitter accounts with tens of thousands of followers. So whom do sub devotees have to thank for inventing the Publix food mashup from heaven? A Facebook user named Dave Charls says, “Me!,” but Publix begs to differ.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that in May of this year, a man named Dave Charls posted a message on the “Are Publix Chicken Tender Subs On Sale?” Facebook page recounting his origin story for the menu item, which allegedly took place in 1997 or 1998. At Charls explains it, he and his co-worker Kevin convinced their friend Philip, a deli worker at the Fleming Island Publix location, to assemble a sub with chicken tenders and ring it up as one item—something that deli workers had refused to do for Dave and Kevin in the past. According to Dave, Philip then convinced his manager to make it a special, publicized it via chalkboard sign, and the idea spread like hot sauce.

“You’re welcome,” Charls said. “It was actually Kevin’s idea and Philip brought it to life.”

Publix, however, told the Tampa Bay Times that its recorded documentation for a chicken tender sub recipe and procedure goes all the way back to 1992 or 1993. Based on that information, Publix spokesperson Brian West confirmed that Charls's heroic account of the origin is more fairytale than fact (though West, unfortunately, doesn’t have an equally thrilling origin story—or any story at all—with which to replace it).

Charls didn’t respond to a request from the Tampa Bay Times for comment, so we may never know how much of his claim is actually true. It’s possible, of course, that Publix’s 1992 (or 1993) chicken tender sub recipe hadn’t gained momentum by the time Kevin’s moment of culinary genius struck in 1997 (or 1998), and the lack of date specificity suggests that neither party knows exactly how it went down. What is incontrovertible, however, is the deliciousness of Publix's beloved sub sandwich.

"I'm just happy to live in the same timeline as this beautiful sandwich," says die-hard Pub Sub fan (and Mental Floss video producer/editor) Justin Dodd. “Copyright claims aside, it's truly a wonderful thing."

This London Pub Might Be the Most Ethical Bar in the World

Ridofranz/Getty Images
Ridofranz/Getty Images

Pub owner Randy Rampersad is doing his part for sustainability. In June, he opened the Green Vic—a play on the fictional Queen Vic pub in the soap opera EastEnders—in the East London neighborhood of Shoreditch. The Telegraph reports it’s aiming to be the world’s most ethical pub: Rampersad eschews plastic and paper straws and opts for gluten-free wheat “straws.” He sources the bar's 100 percent recycled toilet paper from green-minded company Who Gives a Crap, and the communal wooden tables are upcycled.

“I wanted to make the world a better place and run my own business, but I was waiting for that eureka moment,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. He discovered no one had done anything like this before.

There’s no meat on the menu—the food is totally vegan, healthy-ish pub grub. You can add CBD oil to the “chkn" bites appetizer, and the burgers are made from ingredients like soy, seaweed, and sweet potato. The beers are produced by ethical brewers, too: Toast Ale uses unsold loaves and crusts of bread; Good Things Brewing crafts its beer from 100 percent renewable energy; South Africa’s Afro Vegan Cider donates money to an organization that funds equal pay for female farmers; and Brewgooder donates to water projects.

In fact, everything the Green Vic does has charity in mind. “We don't care about the money, I’m planet first and profit after,” Rampersad told The Telegraph. Up to 80 percent of its profits will go to charitable causes, including local food banks. As for the staff, one in four are from marginalized groups. The Green Vic plans to operate as a three-month pop-up pub while scouting for longer term investment.

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