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Thanksgiving turkeys get smaller this year as Americans shrink their celebrations: NPR

Broadbreasted White Turkey roams the outdoor enclosure at the Schenck Family Farm in Newport, North Carolina. This Thanksgiving requires a small turkey, as many families plan to stay home rather than attend large rallies.

Madeline Gray from NPR


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Broadbreasted White Turkey roams the outdoor enclosure at the Schenck Family Farm in Newport, North Carolina. This Thanksgiving requires a small turkey, as many families plan to stay home rather than attend large rallies.

Madeline Gray from NPR

Rachel and Joe Schenck raise turkeys on a small farm in Newport, North Carolina. Turkeys are a traditional commercial breed known as Broadbreast White, which is raised exclusively for Thanksgiving.

“They aren’t very smart, but they make up for it with something really friendly and interesting,” Joe said. Birds are a favorite of the Schenck family, especially reacting to Joe’s rugged bark and echoing back to Joe.

The couple harvests birds on the weekend before Thanksgiving, but for the past few weeks they have been processing orders.

“Probably about 10 people have asked,’I want the smallest turkey you have,'” Rachel said. They raised about 70 turkeys this year.

As pandemic restrictions become more stringent across the United States, many families are changing the way Thanksgiving tables are set up. So this year everything from the size of the gathering to the size of the turkey can look different.

Rachel Schenck (right) and her three-year-old son, Mason Schenck, set foot in a turkey enclosure on a family farm in Newport, North Carolina. Rachel and her husband Joe Schenck started the farm in 2017. They focus on working together as a family. They currently raise turkeys, chickens and pigs.

Madeline Gray from NPR


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Rachel Schenck (right) and her three-year-old son, Mason Schenck, set foot in a turkey enclosure on a family farm in Newport, North Carolina. Rachel and her husband Joe Schenck focus on working together as a family. They currently raise turkeys, chickens and pigs.

Madeline Gray from NPR

Tonya Nash, on the other hand, can count the number of family Thanksgiving she missed.She lives in Atlanta with her husband Jamie, And two sons. But each year, they load into a car and take a 12-hour drive to Houston to celebrate with her husband’s large family.

That’s why the big family is at home in November of this year. Her youngest son was recently diagnosed with severe epilepsy at high risk of complications from COVID-19.

Many things are different about this year’s family celebrations. Nash is determined to eat turkey, even if she is the only one eating turkey. Her husband and son are not big fans.

“Thanksgiving needs turkey,” Nash said, so she got a little turkey breast. It’s far from the nearly £ 20 turkey in Houston.

Celebrate with a close family

She is not the only one downsizing.

Butterball A company that manufactures turkey, butterball, In September, we surveyed about 1,000 adults. They found that 30% planned to celebrate with their immediate family alone. Kyle Rock, senior director of marketing for butterball, says this is about twice the normal year.

Broadbreasted White Turkey roams the outdoor enclosure of the Schenck Family Farm in Newport, North Carolina. This year, about 70 turkeys, which will be £ 14-16 after processing, are all reserved for Thanksgiving.

Madeline Gray from NPR


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Madeline Gray from NPR

Broadbreasted White Turkey roams the outdoor enclosure of the Schenck Family Farm in Newport, North Carolina. This year, about 70 turkeys, which will be £ 14-16 after processing, are all reserved for Thanksgiving.

Madeline Gray from NPR

The butterball turkey talk line is already in operation. The hotline is staffed with trained professionals who can answer any questions related to turkey during the holiday season.

Like many Americans, butterball expert Roni McDaniel and his daughter Koren Hayes receive calls from their home office and kitchen table rather than from a regular call center. They are aware of the differences in what people are looking for.

“Strangely, they’re looking for smaller turkeys,” McDaniel said. They also noticed an increase in callers saying they were the first to cook for Thanksgiving.

McDaniel and Hayes are accustomed to working with beginners. Hayes remembers one of the most crazy callers who noticed that he bought chicken instead of turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

“He looked very sincere.’I don’t really want to spoil this, so how do I cook it and make it look like a turkey to my guests?'” Hayes said. The bird has reached temperature. In addition to her standard food safety tips, such as checking, she also advised men to clean up with guests.

Challenges for farmers to make adjustments

Joe Schenck keeps a turkey for his son Mason to keep a pet in an outdoor enclosure on the farm. “They aren’t very smart, but they make up for it by being really friendly and entertaining,” Schenck said of the turkey.

Madeline Gray from NPR


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Joe Schenck keeps a turkey for his son Mason to keep a pet in an outdoor enclosure on the farm. “They aren’t very smart, but they make up for it by being really friendly and entertaining,” Schenck said of the turkey.

Madeline Gray from NPR

The Butterball Turkey Talkline can answer all sorts of questions, including how to cook small birds, but it doesn’t provide a solution for farmers who find it difficult to adjust their trimmer turkey.

Ron Joyce, President of Joyce Farms in Winston Salem, North Carolina, said:

Joyce raises heritage turkey, a type of domestic turkey with a historic pedigree. He said they promised to grow a certain number of turkeys and their expected size almost a year ago. His company is also accustomed to selling to chefs in restaurants that want oversized turkey.

“Basically, there was no crystal ball to indicate that 95% of our customer base would be closed this year,” Joyce said.

Increase holiday sales

Joe and Rachel Schenck continue to farm full-time in Newport, North Carolina, and hope to add more cattle in the near future.

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Joe and Rachel Schenck continue to farm full-time in Newport, North Carolina, and hope to add more cattle in the near future.

Madeline Gray from NPR

Instead, he said the company had left the restaurant and seized another opportunity.

“During a panic, when I rushed to buy meat and chicken at a grocery store, many of the grocery store shelves were naked for a while, so I increased direct sales to consumers,” Joyce said. Said.

The average local household helped them improve their holiday sales.

Rachel and Joe Schenck are doing well this holiday season. This year it was sold out as a turkey, but not last year. And for customers who demand small birds, Shenks helps them become creative.

“I have to go back and say,’Well, is half a turkey okay?'” Rachel said.

She found that most customers were happy with it, even though most people didn’t draw the whole turkey on the Thanksgiving table.

That’s certainly not the strangest thing about 2020.

Emma Peaslee is an NPR KROC Fellow.

Thanksgiving turkeys get smaller this year as Americans shrink their celebrations: NPR

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