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Holiday food help sites only a telephone call or click away

Some staffed on Thanksgiving Day

November 21, 2012
By MIKE DONAHEY - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Liz Meimann, of Iowa State University in Ames, is one of the many "holiday hotline" specialists on duty this holiday season.

Meimann's job is to calm the sometimes anxious callers who have questions about defrosting turkeys, selecting pie crusts, smoothing out lumpy gravy and dealing with leftovers.

Meimann is a five-year veteran and is joined by Carolyn Brown and Beth Marrs.

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Turkey and other poultry are popular main dishes for holiday meals as is ham. Fortunately for the consumer, a number of companies offer toll free numbers, websites and in some instances, one-to-one assistance for food planning and preparation.

The trio work in ISU's Extension and Outreach department at McKay Hall and have been busy managing Extension's "Answer Line."

"The three days leading up to Thanksgiving are very busy for us," Meimann said. "Ordinarily, we'll take time off for lunch, but at this time of year we stagger our lunch breaks so someone is available to take a call. This week we've taken many calls on thawing turkeys and pie preparation."

The office had helped 171 callers by mid-afternoon Monday.

Fact Box

Holiday Hotlines

Betty Crocker: 800-446-1898

Butterball Turkey Talk Line: 800-288-8372 (staff available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST).

Candy Kitchen Hotline: 714-781-0112

Crisco Pie Hot Line: 877-FOR-PIE-TIPS

Empire Kosher Poultry Customer Hot Line: 717-436-7055 or

Fleischmann's Yeast Baker's Help Line: 800-777-4959

Ham Hotline: 866-343-5058 (staff available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST)

Iowa State University Extension: 800-262-3804

King Arthur Flour Co.'s Bakers Hot Line: 802-649-3717 or email questions to

Land o' Lakes Help Line: 800-328-4155 (staff available Tuesday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST)


Nestle Toll House Baking Information:

Ocean Spray Consumer Help: 800-662-3263 or (staff available Thanksgiving from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST)

Perdue Consumer Help Line: 800-473-7383

Pumpkin Pie:

Reynolds Turkey Tips Hot Line: 800-745-4000


U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hot Line: 888-674-6854 or (staff available on Thanksgiving from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST)

The office is open 9 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday but will be closed Thanksgiving.

"No question is too silly," Meimann said. "We are here to help."

Extension's hotline is unique - it operates year round and has been in place more than 30 years.

The staff are trained to answer a wide variety of home-related questions from food preparation to disaster clean-up.

An updated website and recently installed Facebook and Twitter accounts round out their assistance.

Also receiving thousands of calls are representatives of nationally-known products as Betty Crocker, Butterball Turkey, Crisco, King Arthur Flour and Ocean Spray.

The businesses offer one-to-one advice, how-to videos and other tips via toll-free numbers, social media and websites.

"We've taken many calls on rolls and pies," said a representative for King Arthur Flour Tuesday afternoon.

Some agencies and companies have staff available limited hours on Thanksgiving.



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