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Manly tips on basting from Butterball

Butterball’s decision to hire male “Turkey Talkers” probably won’t be remembered as a landmark in the fight for gender equality. But it’s a mark of change, nonetheless: More dads and granddads than ever before will be putting on the oven mitts this Thanksgiving and, for the first time, they can get tips on basting from other guys.

After 32 years, Butterball is looking to hire the first male staffers for its Turkey Talk-Line. During November and December these culinary experts will field turkey-related questions from callers, ranging from the mundane, such as advice on cooking time, to the more urgent, such as what to do if your turkey is on fire.

Butterball insists that it never had a policy of excluding men. Rather, prospective Turkey Talkers found out about job openings via word of mouth, a process that somehow led to a female-only staff. However, Turkey Talk-Line director Mary Clingman acknowledges that the new hires come at a time when more men have taken to the oven — or, in many cases, the deep fryer — on Thanksgiving. According to Clingman, about 25 percent of Talk-Line callers are men, up from 9 percent when the hotline started. As for advice, well, Butterball’s web site promises answers to such challenging questions as “when to start roasting the turkey so it’s ready by halftime.”

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