My brother is a butcher.

I really like calling him a butcher, because it’s just one of those real jobs.  You know exactly what a butcher does, no question.  It’s not something inexplicable like a designer or engineer.  (I still haven’t found a good way of describing to non-engineers what it is I do… but I digress)

The other night, I called my brother to get some facts and figures about Thanksgiving.  See, during this time of year BenTheButcher only comes up for air a few hours per day.  He’s literally up to his chin in turkeys, hams, and other holiday meats.

So I called the man himself to get some interesting inside facts about working as a Butcher during this crazy time of year.

  • Statistics:  Ben said that last week (the 2nd most busy week of the year) they received 11 pallets of turkeys: 15 cases, 2 birds each… 330 birds: $16000 for just that one turkey order.  And that’s just one week.  Triple that to get what they order for the season.  They usually sell around 1000 birds around thanksgiving.  Slightly fewer around Christmas. Contrast that with only 4 pallets of hams.
  • There’s no such thing as a fresh turkey.  The supposed ‘fresh’ turkeys are actually flash frozen after they’re processed, then sent to the grocery store to thaw and be resold at double the price of a frozen turkey.
  • Turkeys come anywhere from 10 – 30 lbs! (Make sure you measure your oven before buying the 30lb bird.
  • A “hen” and “tom” don’t indicate the gender of the bird, they indicate weight.  Any turkey, male or female, over 16 lbs is a Tom, anything under 16lbs is a Hen.
  • All turkeys are the same.  The only difference between the butterball and the norbest are the processing at the factory: flavor injection and the packaging of the giblets.  That’s it.
  • Grocery stores make essentially $0.00 on Turkeys.  They basically sell them at cost to attract customers to buy all the other fixin’s for their meal, which have been marked up 1000%.
  • “Free range”, “organic”, all sorts of other crap… what’s the big deal?  Turkeys are nasty birds, whether they’re roaming free eating the dirt or cooped up in a pen guzzling ‘roids all day long to get fat fast.  The truth is, it doesn’t affect the end taste of the turkey much at all.  So if you’re like morally opposed to cages or want to pay more just to feel good about yourself, go ahead and get the free roamers.

The thing BenTheButcher really wanted to tell everyone was this:

Just be a normal person and go buy your turkey 3 days early, like normal people should.  Go Mon (today) or Tues (tomorrow), and just stick the frozen bird in the refrigerator… clean out your rotten country crock margarine and the nasty leftover meatloaf and let it defrost for 2-3 days.

Don’t complain.  Don’t go through the whole freezer case.  And don’t ask the butcher to go find you a bird that is EXACTLY 12 lbs.

Every bird is the exact same.  You don’t need to knock on them like a watermelon or squeeze the leg like a peach.  They’re all the same nasty bird.

…Or just go with some prime rib.  $16/lb vs $0.79/lb for turkey.

Oh and one last thing… every year, some old lady comes to try and return her turkey cause it was too dry.  Hey… he just kills it and gives it to you.  It’s not his fault if you can’t cook and screw it up!

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2 Responses to Tom Turkey

  1. Erika says:

    Many thanks to Brother Ben for his wise words of wisdom about turkey time! I’m sure he’s VERY thankful when Thanksgiving is done.

  2. Caroline says:

    Hey, actually there is such a thing as a “fresh” bird. Our family had one this year. Apparently a cousin of mine, who is like some farm/mechanic/teacher whatever had his kids grow turkeys for 4H or something like that, and our bird had never been frozen. Crazy thing weighed 33lbs. And yeah, having not been frozen, it was way better.

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