April 27, 1998
Dear Turkey Traffickers,
I encountered an oddity when preparing my very first turkey for my new in-laws recently.
As I unwrapped the thawed turkey carcass, I noticed a peculiarity—the legs were pointing in the wrong direction (toward me). Is this some sort of genetic quirk—a turkey whose legs point up instead of down, and whose wings point down instead of up?
Then, I encountered difficulties while attempting to rip out the gizzards. I reached down the neck to rip out thee gizzards. First, the neck was really hard to get at—I had to use force. Next, the giblets took a little searching—rather than being located near the neck, they were closer to the rear end. Have the Butterball geneticists been experimenting?
When I placed the turkey in the roaster, I discretely flipped the carcass over so it looked “normal”. As I served the “elephant bird”, nobody knew the difference—everyone praised the tenderness, and flavor. But I couldn’t eat—I was battling feelings of guilt, self-doubt, and deceit. I had just served my wife and her family a “genetic freak” bird who spent its life standing on its head. That took a lot of giblets.
I would appreciate it if someone could “clone me an explanation” for this genetic quirk. Many feel that we are “playing God” by tampering with creation. Moral issues aside, my complaint relates more to the unexpected surprise of unwrapping a freak bird. Maybe it would be different if you labeled them and charged less. Let me know.
Also, is the use of the word “carcass” offensive in turkey preparation? My guests kept looking at me funny when I used that word. If you have a better word, please share it.
Something was Quirky About That Last Turkey,
Note from Kay at Butterball on 6-12-1998:
Dear Mr. Barnowski,
Thank you for writing us regarding your Butterball turkey. We always enjoy hearing from our consumers. Please accept our apology for the delay in responding to your concerns, your letter was routed to us for the best response.
Butterball turkeys are carefully grown, selected, and processed to ensure the best quality possible and we are glad to hear your family enjoyed the tenderness and flavor of your prepared turkey. Perhaps the conditions that you describe were due to processing not genetics. I am enclosing several pictures of our Butterball turkeys for your consideration. If this is not representative o the turkey you purchased, I would appreciate your call to further discuss this situation.
During processing, the turkey is cut with a “bar cut” which permits legs to be tucked to eliminate the need for sewing and trussing (lower left picture). The wing “tips” are left on to allow the wings to be folded under the turkey for attractive presentation as shown in the top picture. If you look very closely, you can observe the outline of the wing tip pressed against the turkey breast (I also hand-outlined the tip) as it would be positioned when packaged.
We pack the neck and giblets in separate cavities to make it as easy as possible for consumers to remove them. Our experience, through the years has been that the neck fits best in the body cavity and the giblets in the neck/crop cavity areas. The lower right photo shows the neck being pulled from the body cavity, the giblets having been removed from the neck cavity at the other end of the turkey. As you noted, these cavities are further from the areas where they are anatomically connected to the live bird.
To respond to your last question, we refer to the turkey as either “raw” turkey or an “oven-roasted” turkey depending on its stage during processing.
If you have any more questions, or we can be of further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You may reach us at 1 800 BUTTERBALL (1 800 288-8372) or write us at Butterball Turkey Company, 2001 Butterball Road, Downers Grove, IL 60515.
I have enclosed a couple recipe booklets for your future use. Thanks again for writing us.
Regulatory and Consumer Affairs
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