Talking Turkey

“When I was young I remember well, I’d hunt the wild Turkey and the bob-white quail.” Lord Have Mercy On A Country Boy, by Don Williams

I’m no country boy. I grew up in a small rusting city where hunting was rare and wild turkeys unknown. For us, Thanksgiving meant one main course and one brand-Butterball turkey. It felt like having a Cadillac on the dinner table. The bird came rock frozen and seemingly needed an ice age to defrost. That responsibility fell to our mother, who had a savant’s knack for nursing the glacial slab of poultry into a crisp and juicy delicacy, ready for carving with the electric knife dad brought home along with a Waring blender from his favorite small-appliance vendor, one Vince Barone of Coronet Sales. The whizzing Sunbeam brand electric blade enabled dad to slice the Turkey with surgical precision, avoiding the litany of frustrated cursing that had historically accompanied his efforts to perform the operation with a conventional carving knife, with blade dulled to a butter-knife bluntness by years of neglect.

But it was the Butterball itself that stole the show. It was infused with a mysterious marinade that inspired its name. Was there genuine butter in the Butterball? It hardly mattered. What mattered instead was the suggestion of rich, indulgent succulence and the promise of moist, tender breast meat for the Thanksgiving feast with plenty of leftovers for sandwiches later that night and the next day as well.

Today, when fresh heirloom, artisanal, handcrafted, and curated foods are ascendant, foodies and gourmands turn down their collective nose at the prosaic Butterball. But for millions of families, the Butterball brand has not lost its luster. In fact, the Butterball has evolved. Shoppers can still count on the familiar frozen Thanksgiving icon. But now, fresh Butterball turkeys also brim from supermarket poultry cases, sparing the harries host from having to plan the lengthy defrosting ritual. For countless of American households, Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving without a Butterball thawing in the fridge. It’s more than nostalgia. It’s the satisfaction that comes from a dependable brand like Butterball.

QOUTE OF THE DAY: “You cut the turkey without me?” From the film “Avalon”

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