So, it's Thanksgiving. What in the world are you going to talk about with your aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, parents, grandparents, and relative strangers? We've collected some of the most helpful packages, anecdotes, and news entries from around the Internet, and categorized them in terms of the type of Thanksgiving guest you might bring them up with. There's something for everyone—on The Atlantic Wire alone we've got movies, vegan turducken, turkey-petting photos, ways to get in the spirit of the season ... and from the rest of the Internet, we've gathered the following:
For the Person With a Landline. Want to know about how the Butterball Talk-Line works? We thought so. "Talking turkey is serious business; those taking the sometimes frantic phone calls go through Butterball University to learn everything there is to know about turkeys and how to cook them properly," writes Lisa Stark of ABC News.
For the Nostalgia Buff. From the Wall Street Journal, families have very divided opinions on Fluff, that marshmallow stuff made by Durkee-Mower Inc. that you put on sweet-potato casseroles, maybe, or eat out of the jar at certain times of the season. "'This time of the year, we're selling it faster than we can make it,' Mr. Durkee said." Read on, for great controversies ensue: "The [Fluff] issue is enough to divide families. 'It's been going on since I was growing up; we really, really love our sweet-potato casserole but we can never agree on a topping,' says Joshua Grotheer, the spokesman for Georgia State University's school of hospitality." At the very least, there's more than enough here to impress your family about what you know about Fluff.
For Your Decadent Foodie Friend With a Sense of Humor. The New York Times has a hilarious, sort of helpful, totally mind-boggling interactive tool called "The Thanksgiving-erator." It allows you to answer some "simple questions" about your food preferences and will create a menu for you based on that. The questions begin with your most basic desires and winnow down from that. So, do you want your menu to be modernist, colonialist, nostalgist, hedonist, baconist, extremist, or purist? We selected hedonist but were quickly felled by the first question: "What's the main course?" Possible answers: "The type of bird is immaterial. But I must have my foie gras." "Foie gras is not enough. I also require black truffles." "I prefer a more conventional turkey, though it should be slathered with at least 1/4 pound of butter." I suggest this as a party game: Not all will relate to its charms, but for those who will, play it together for laughs.
For the Foodie-Hater, or the Food-Writer Hater. Is this just the most insufferable time of year for you, too?
For the 'Dear Abby' Reader-Writer. Elsewhere in the Times, food writers are taking reader questions at the Thanksgiving Help Line. Here we get reasonable answers to practical questions like, "Can I save food on the side for myself, secretly, if I cooked it?" (yes!) "Can I just go out to dinner for Thanksgiving" (yes!) and "Is it OK to cook an turkey from the Reagan era?" (no). Also, "how many calories are there in a typical Thanksgiving dinner?" (Not looking, la la la la laaaa). Also, also: "My brother owes me $25,000. Do I ask him for the money before or after we carve the turkey?" We said it was helpful. Answer the questions and compare your responses to those of the experts!
For the Jump-to-Conclusions Type. Want to know what might go wrong this holiday, with photos? Check out the Journal's "6 Thanksgiving Day Disasters" from MarketWatch, and share it with a pal who can also be thankful if you don't set your turkey on fire, get in a car crash, cut yourself, get food poisoning, or break your toilet or your sink (or both). Reassure this person with pie laced with Xanax after sharing these tales (no, don't!). Or share your own horror-story anecdotes that really ended up O.K., to be soothing.
For the Math Fiend. For those who like stats more than words, there's a Thanksgiving by the numbers from CNN. All the stats you'll ever need to lull yourself to sleep while entertaining your engineer uncle! Did you know that the Butterball Talk-Line opened 31 years ago, that there were 46 million turkeys eaten last year for Thanksgiving in the U.S., and that Lincoln named it Thanksgiving, officially, 149 years ago? Now you do.
For the Amateur Historian. What are they eating in the White House this year? What did former presidents eat? A tidbit from the Washington Post: "Taft’s Thanksgiving turkeys competed for attention on his holiday tables with chubby Georgia possums, each with a potato stuffed in its mouth." Food for thought joke here.
For the Type Who Doesn't Feel Fulfilled Unless Trying to Keep Up With the Joneses. Compare your Thanksgiving to what the Food and Wine staff is doing! Yours is obviously better. Or is it?
For People Who Like Parades. Let's talk Macy's. The balloons! Where to watch. Will it rain? Who's better, Papa Smurf or Hello Kitty? It goes on and on.
For the Fiscally Responsible, or to Share With Mom and Dad. "Feeling the pinch of the sluggish economic recovery, many Americans setting out on the nation's annual Thanksgiving migration sacrificed summer vacations, relied on relatives for airfare or scoured the Web for travel deals to ensure they made it home," writes Jason Keyser for the A.P. Can you have the car keys and $20?
For the Thrifty. Where can you get the seriously most rock-bottom priced Thanksgiving dinner? (Spoiler: Sam's Club.)
For the Reader. Read and then discuss this great piece about the various conversations about Thanksgiving that have appeared in the New Yorker in the magazine's 87 years. "In all that time, the magazine has published a lot of writing about the holiday, almost none of it even remotely serious," writes Joshua Rothman.
For the Vegetarian. Not very pardon-happy President Obama pardoned both turkeys and not just one, which is something else to be thankful for, we suppose. In the photo at right, Cobbler is "stopped from leaving" by a human leg before his pardon in the White House Rose Garden.
That should at least get you started. Discuss amongst yourselves.
Inset via Reuters.