The times they are a-changin’.
This year, when you make a panicked phone call to Butterball‘s Turkey Talk hotline because you’re wrist-deep in a Thanksgiving turkey and realize you’re completely out of poultry seasoning, the hero on the other end of the line suggesting alternatives might be a man.
The helpline has offered advice and assistance to harried preparers of holiday meals for the past thirty-two years, but has never, in all that time, hired a man to dispense the domestic advice. This year, however, the turkey-seller is not only actively seeking men for the job, but also plans to hire a male spokesman.
Men age twenty-five and up can apply to be helpline operators (or even the spokesman) via an online application process, which opens today and closes Oct. 20. The gentleman selected to be the spokesman will both man the helpline and make media appearances.
The company says that while it never intentionally excluded men, it usually relied on word-of-mouth to hire its talk line operators, and its hires always happened to be women. In light of shifting household responsibilities and many families abandoning traditional gender roles, the company has decided it’s high time its hotline reflect the more gender-equal reality of modern American households.
“It’s the perfect time, because we have seen more and more men involved in Thanksgiving dinner,” said Mary Clingman, director of the Butterball Turkey line. She said that when the talk line started, only about 9 percent of calls that came in were from men, compared to about one in every four calls today.
These changes are part of Butterball’s effort to modernize and improve its services; the talk line launched a smartphone app, Facebook live chats, Pinterest posts and other social media tools last year.
Personally, my father was always the one who cooked the Turkey in my family, so none of this is groundbreaking stuff for me (as I imagine it isn’t for many families). I’m glad to see Butterball make this shift, and hope that as the holidays approach, other brands will consider changing their stand-by portrayal of men as oafish husbands sitting on couches and watching football while their harried wives hustle and bustle in holiday-induced mania.