This morning at work, we were talking about Thanksgiving and one of my teammates forwarded a story about the Butterball Turkey Talk Line. For 35 years this enterprising group of Butterball employees has been answering turkey-related questions from consumers every holiday season, helping ensure that John Q. Public hosts a successful Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. It’s a great service they’re providing, and sheds light on just how idiotic some people are. (Sample question: can I put edible glitter in the spice rub? The answer is yes, but the bigger question is, why would you?) Anyway. The article included the following photograph.
We were looking at that and remarking about how dated it was.
“How dated is it?” Deb asked.
“Very,” I replied.
But I found that answer rather lacking for my tastes. I’m a researcher, after all. I seek answers, and was sure I could determine exactly how dated this photo was. So I put my detective hat on and got to work. OK, I suppose detectives don’t actually wear hats unless they are named Sherlock Holmes, but that’s beside the point. Flush with excitement over this new challenge, I set about the task of figuring out the year this photo was taken.
First, I zoomed in on the picture, making it as large as I could. I carefully observed the tiniest of details, certain they contained the clues necessary to decoding this mystery. The calculator was timeless and the highlighter told me nothing. It was impossible to read the contents of the binder. The sweaters, while a fashion no-no, could have been hand-me-downs. Then I noticed the calendar on the wall. It was November, and the 1st was a Saturday. Aha! This was something I could work with.
A little bit of internet sleuthing showed me that the most recent occurrence of a first of November landing on a Saturday was in 2014. One look at those computers – IBMs, I noted – not to mention all that freakin’ yellow, made it obvious this photo was taken much earlier than 2014. There were three other years with a Saturday, November 1 in which computers were commonly used: 2003, 1997, and 1986. I ruled out 2003 for similar technological and fashion-related reasons. Deb guessed 1986, but I was skeptical. I had a computer in ’86 and it was nowhere near as fancy as this one. You can clearly see the text on the monitor is blue and yellow. Back in the mid ’80s you were stuck with green on black (or possibly black and white). Just to be sure, I Googled “IBM computer 1986.” Sure enough, the images that popped up depicted considerably less sophisticated computers. Guess what popped up when I changed my search to 1997? This computer. So, I had cracked the code and solved an ages-old (err…ten minutes, anyway) mystery. Through my deductive line of reasoning, I determined that the above photograph was taken in November, 1997.
Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work?
Word Count Today: 1,187.
Total Word Count: 29,905.
10 thoughts on “NNWM/17: Bygone Butterball”
Excellent work, Mr. Petruska. Notice the doodles on the agent’s notepad. Aren’t they a bit disconcerting?
Yes…I wonder what she is idly drawing while talking to these people? Too bad we can’t zoom in even closer. Then again, maybe we don’t want to know…
Nice work, Sherlock! I was thinking 1986, but then, looking back at what I was using a computer for in 1986 was basically just word processing.
That’s exactly it. The Commodore 64 was all the rage in ’86. This postdates that by several years for sure.
Good job, fellow Research Junkie! Great calender work!
The ‘pig book’, as you dubbed it, runs from 1948 – 2015. I found myself bringing up calendars and weather-related charts for the years in between that applied to the story line. Good times!
LikeLiked by 1 person
And the funny thing is, the research and accuracy probably matter more to authors than any of our readers. We imagine getting called out if we don’t portray something correctly, but in reality, is that really going to happen? Doubtful.
Which doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep researching my heart out.
LikeLiked by 1 person
On the contrary, have you never heard of Stephen King’s big PayDay candy bar controversy in ‘The Stand’? Do a quick Google of ‘Stephen King The Stand PayDay’. I’ll continue to do my research and present my fiction as factually as possible. 🙂 LOL.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Ahh…very interesting! I’m a big fan of The Stand but had never heard this before. Thanks for pointing me in a very interesting direction.
Brilliant piece of deduction in discovering the exact time, Mark! And I think you’re absolutely right, it was most likely in the late 90’s because I got my first computer in 1999 and the keyboard was more streamlined that in the picture. However, the monitor I had was very much like the one in the photo – thick and bulky.
Have a super weekend, buddy!
I had WebTV for a few years before even buying a computer. It wasn’t until sometime after the turn of the century before I bought a “real” computer. Can you believe that?!