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.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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The Surprising History of Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple cider doughnuts have a surprisingly modern history.
Apple cider doughnuts have a surprisingly modern history.
bhofack2/Getty Images

Apple cider doughnuts are synonymous with fall, particularly in New England, where apple orchards from Maine to Connecticut use their own cider to flavor the fluffy, golden rings. Both sweet and savory, and often dusted in finger-licking cinnamon sugar, apple cider doughnuts may seem like a quaint tradition inherited from Colonial times—but the tasty treats have a more modern history that may surprise you.

It all started with Russian immigrant and entrepreneur Adolf Levitt. According to Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut, Levitt bought a chain of New York bakeries in 1916. He was impressed by American soldiers’ fondness for the fried loops of flavored dough and began developing a doughnut-making machine to take advantage of troops’ appetites. In one of his early marketing coups, he installed a prototype in the window of his Harlem bakery in 1920. The machine caught the eye—and the cravings—of passersby. Levitt went on to sell his doughnut-making machines and a standardized flour mix to other bakeries.

He spun his marketing prowess into founding the Doughnut Corporation of America. The corporation evangelized doughnuts in marketing campaigns across print media, radio, and TV. A World War II-era party manual the DCA produced noted, “no other food is so heartwarming, so heartily welcomed as the doughnut.” Levitt’s granddaughter Sally L. Steinberg wrote that Levitt, “made doughnuts America's snack, part of office breaks for coffee and doughnuts, of Halloween parties with doughnuts on strings, of doughnut-laden political rallies.”

The DCA launched the first National Doughnut Month in October 1928. In its zeal, the DCA sometimes made dubious recommendations. In 1941, along with surgeon J. Howard Crum, it advocated for the single source “doughnut diet.” Later it marketed “Vitamin Doughnuts” based on an enhanced flour mix it claimed provided more protein and nutrients than made-at-home creations. (The federal government required them to use the name “Enriched Flour Doughnuts,” according to Glazed America.) A skeptical public didn’t gobble up the sales pitch—or the doughnuts.

In 1951, however, the DCA introduced a flavor with staying power. A New York Times article from August 19 of that year observed, “A new type of product, the Sweet Cider Doughnut will be introduced by the Doughnut Corporation of America in its twenty-third annual campaign this fall to increase doughnut sales. The new item is a spicy round cake that is expected to have a natural fall appeal.”

The cider doughnut recipe gives a fall spin to the basic buttermilk doughnut by adding apple cider to the batter, with cinnamon and nutmeg boosting the autumnal flavor. Each orchard typically has its own family recipe and usually serves them paired with mulled apple cider. The doughnuts have caught on well beyond pastoral landscapes and are now seasonal favorites in national chains and home kitchens. Dunkin’ has taken up the mantle, and Smitten Kitchen and The New York Times have recipes for a make-at-home version.

Although the apple cider doughnut has stood the test of time, the DCA didn’t. J. Lyons & Co. bought out Levitt’s DCA in the 1970s, and the entrepreneurs behind Seattle’s Top Pot Doughnuts later bought the DCA trademark. The company distributes its doughnuts nationwide; however, its offerings don’t include a cider doughnut.