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The iconic Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is alive and fielding what reliably is its top question: How do I thaw a turkey?

“Year after year, that’s the No. 1 question,” said Susan Smith, co-director of the help line at 1-800-BUTTERBALL, or 1-800-288-8372.

“We counsel thawing your turkey in the fridge, figuring 24 hours for every four pounds of turkey,” she said.

So for a 20-pound turkey, that would be? “Five days.”

That’s one reason the help line opens on Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 25.

If you’re calling within five days of the feast, there’s the option of thawing in a water bath, she said, which takes 30 minutes a pound. So, for that 20-pound bird, 10 hours.

Here’s the drill: Thaw the turkey breast side down, in its unopened wrapper, with enough cold water to cover it completely. Your sink may be the best place. Change water every 30 minutes, and if turkey cannot be submerged, rotate it every 30 minutes to keep it chilled.

Stressing out yet?

Smith offers this wisdom: It’s OK to be imperfect.

“We know Thanksgiving can be stressful, but we also know it’s important to not sweat the small stuff,” she said. “Be imperfectly perfect. It’s all about gathering and being thankful.”

Another top question: How much turkey do I need?

Answer: Plan on 1 ½ pounds per person, which allows for generous servings at dinner, plus the all-important leftovers.

Another: How do I get my turkey to look golden brown?

Answer: Brush the bird with vegetable oil before placing it in a 325-degree oven. Roast uncovered until it’s two-thirds of the way through the expected cooking time. Place a small tent of aluminum foil over the breast meat and continue roasting.

Another: How do I know when a turkey is done?

Answer: Buy a meat thermometer. Smith said it doesn’t have to be fancy. Then roast until the thigh meat registers 180 degrees and the breast meat is 170 degrees.

And if you’re not sure where a turkey’s thigh is, Smith advises checking the many videos at

For the second year, you can text questions to an expert at 1-844-877-3456.

And, for those all-important social media posts, Butterball is urging celebrants to sign a petition asking Unicode, the group that oversees the coding standards for texting and emojis, to create a Thanksgiving turkey emoji.

They argue that other holidays are represented by fireworks, Cupid hearts, jack-o’-lanterns and Christmas trees.

True, a turkey emoji does exist. But it’s, well, alive.

So if you’d like to see a golden roasted turkey emoji, visit and search for “turkey emoji.”

Then give thanks.

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185