Thursday, November 22, 2007


guests are due in an hour and the packet of giblets is stuck fast in the cavity of your still-frozen turkey.

The local cooks taking calls at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, based in Naperville, will gently guide you through whatever crisis arises from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. today -- the busiest day of their work year, when they typically field about 20,000 cries for help. (The most common issue they hear about, in case you're wondering, is that not-yet-thawed bird.)

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Is your dinner turning into a turkey? There is a place to call for help: the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at (800) 288-8372.

From Friday through Dec. 23, the gobbler gabbers can be on the line from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and they'll be in the office early again on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, taking calls from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days.

The Talk-Line can be reached at (800) 288-8372 (BUTTERBALL). Cooking instructions and a wealth of other helpful information -- from food safety tips to how-tos for making the right amount of stuffing to ways to use up the leftovers -- can also be found at

Previously part of
says he has a lot to be thankful for. This time a year ago, his employer of nine years, Carolina Turkeys, had just become Butterball LLC, taking the famous name of the brand it bought for $325 million in October 2006 from ConAgra Foods Inc. The combined business, which is based in Mt. Olive, N.C., and owned by Goldsboro Milling Co. and Smithfield Foods Inc., expects to do more than $1.5 billion in revenue this year, for a 23% market share, Wells says.

The newlyweds got through the holiday season and then the fun began -- bringing Butterball on to Carolina Turkeys' SAP system, itself only a year old. We'll let Wells talk turkey -- and discuss the latest with the Turkey Talk-Line.

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Is the turkey business competitive?
Ron Wells: It really is. You'd think with all the emphasis on eating healthier that this would be a growing market, but turkey consumption is relatively flat, so the competition remains fierce.

What kind of role does the CIO play at Butterball?
Wells: More and more it is a very strategic role. I'll give the Reader's Digest version of what we've been through over the last couple of years: We had a huge SAP project that went live two years ago this October. It went very well for us. We're running SAP for almost everything. One reason for that project was to help us grow. We took a look at the systems we had that were homegrown. They worked very well, but the company wanted more of a platform for growth. How prophetic. On the first anniversary of the SAP go-live, we became Butterball LLC.

We acquired Butterball, but we're smart enough to take that name. Our company had been on a mission to grow a name brand. That's very costly. After many years, if you get 20% name recognition you've done good. So, kind of overnight, we doubled in size.

How do you figure out what you're going to be selling?
Wells: There is a lot of forecasting involved. What made this year particularly interesting for us -- and we have a lot to be thankful for this year -- is that Butterball had no IT systems of its own. They were part of ConAgra. When we acquired them, we were paying ConAgra a service agreement to maintain those systems until we could cut the systems over. What our SAP system allowed us to do was to implement all the HR payroll pieces in three months, purchasing in four and the whole order-to-cash process in five months. You know, I wouldn't recommend it. It was a really, really aggressive schedule.

Our goal was to get solid before the holiday season -- so we're thrilled with the real good fill rates, good customer service. We've had no major problems through this holiday season on our systems. That's what we're most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

How did an IT staff of 25 get the implementation done so quickly?
Wells: We were very fortunate. As a company we made the decision not to customize, not go best of breed. Deloitte Consulting had assisted SAP with a food and beverage solution -- a pre-configuration of SAP. We were able to get several people that had been in Germany on that team that had developed it. They really understood the business well. The difference was tremendous [compared] with consultants who come in and we have to explain issues in the meat industry, like catch weight, freshness, product rotation. These guys came in, they already knew it: "Here's issues you're going to have; here's how we're going to work around it." It was just a very good implementation.

Does the company work directly with farmers -- do you go from farm to table?
Wells: That's another interesting difference between Carolina Turkeys and the Butterball business. Carolina is actually owned by the growers…. What was really neat about the acquisition [of Butterball] was that Carolina Turkeys' world was all about further processed products. I would not say we did absolutely no Thanksgiving whole birds, but they were a very, very small part of our business. Butterball, on the other hand, is the name brand for that. And when we put our top 20 customers and their top 20 customers together, there is something like two that overlap. So it is a tremendous synergy here.

I don't think of farmers as people who spend a lot of time in front of the computer. Is there a culture clash between the farmers and a 21st century purveyor using SAP?
Wells: Times have changed. Everyone is now more technologically savvy, and understands the benefits of good systems and processes.

What about the famous Butterball Turkey-Talk line? Does IT have anything to do with that?
Wells: That was one of the many parts of the conversion. ConAgra had hosted the Web site, and they did a really super job on the Talk line. That was a big marketing push. Unfortunately it was hosted on a ConAgra mainframe. We had to supply new systems for that. We had to vacate the [ConAgra] facility and move down the street a few blocks. We had to migrate all of the tie lines, all of the phone lines, all the feeds they have for media that comes for media day. You'll probably see the Talk-Line on a national TV show. All of that stuff had to be redone -- so all new phone lines, new phone system. It was an incredible effort.

As a matter of fact, I went and visited the Talk-Line last year when it was in operation. We just wanted to see what we were inheriting and what we were going to have to support. It's just really cool. Some of these ladies have been doing it for 20 years.

I have to ask some Thanksgiving Day questions: Do you get a free turkey?
Wells: Yes, we sure do, and they are Butterball.

And the Friday after Thanksgiving -- do you get to snooze?
Wells: It's a workday. So, if we take a vacation day, yeah,
it's time to learn?

You're not alone. Today on "Good Morning America," chef Sara Moulton took a first-timer through the process, step by step. And if you feel embarrassed about never cooking a turkey, don't. Turkey virgin Vicky, featured on the show, works at Gourmet magazine!

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Below are step-by-step cooking and carving directions from

How to Cook a Turkey

1. If turkey is frozen, thaw in the refrigerator or cold water. When ready to cook, remove the wrapper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Remove the neck from the body cavity and the giblets from the neck cavity. Drain the juices and blot the cavities with paper towels.

3. Just before roasting, stuff the neck and body cavities lightly, if desired. Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. Return legs to tucked position, if untucked. No trussing is necessary.

4. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a flat rack in an open roasting pan about 2 inches deep. A handy, "turkey lifter" comes with each Butterball turkey. Place this special string cradle on a rack, then place the turkey on top and bring the loops up around the turkey. Do this before putting the turkey in the oven and when lifting the cooked turkey from the pan, use the loops as handles.

5. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh next to the body, not touching the bone.

6. Brush the skin with vegetable oil to prevent the skin from drying. Further basting is unnecessary. (Moulton uses butter.)

7. Wash preparation utensils, work surfaces and hands in hot, soapy water after contact with uncooked turkey and juices.

8. Roast at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. To calculate roasting time click here. When the skin is light golden, about 2/3 done, shield the breast loosely with lightweight foil to prevent overcooking.

9. Check for doneness 1/2 hour before turkey is expected to be done. Turkey is fully cooked when the thigh's internal temperature is 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The thickest part of the breast should read 170 degrees Fahrenheit and the center of the stuffing should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit
family and friends, but that's not all there is to this uniquely American holiday.

Here's a roundup of what else today holds:


Bands, floats and supersized balloons depicting characters from TV, movies and popular culture will be featured in Thanksgiving Day parades to be aired at 9 a.m. on the NBC and CBS television networks.


Cloudy skies and warm temperatures are forecast today, but there's a 50-50 chance of showers this afternoon.


The 34th annual Daytona Turkey Run car show kicks off from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Daytona International Speedway and continues through Sunday. Admission today is $15, with children younger than 11 admitted free with an adult.


Three NFL games are on the tube today, with a college contest between Southern Cal and Arizona State capping off the day at 8 p.m. See Page 2D for details.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Butterball is a brand of turkey and other poultry products produced by Butterball LLC, a joint venture of Smithfield Foods and Maxwell Farms.[1]

The brand has existed for over fifty years and has been the top-selling brand of turkey in the United States for over forty years. Contrary to popular belief Butterball does not inject their turkeys with butter. The Butterball name comes from the breed of turkey they use which is white-feathered with broad breasts.

The name Butterball was originally registered as trademark #378,438 on June 11, 1940 by Ada Walker of Wyoming, Ohio. Leo Peters purchased the trademark in February of 1951. Leo Peters licensed the name to Swift and Co. for 10 years before selling it in the 60's. Peters sold the name "Butterball" to Swift and Co. which was later acquired by ConAgra, but retained rights to the use of the name for his butter products and the company he founded which is still in operation today: Butterball Farms, Inc.

In October 2006, ConAgra's Butterball branded turkey business was sold to North Carolina based Carolina Turkeys, which renamed itself Butterball LLC.[1]

Among numerous other brands, English-bred Butterball turkeys are sold in the United Kingdom during Christmas time, for the Christmas feast.

According to Butterball, the following products are sold under the Butterball name:[2]

whole turkeys


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