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How dumb are they? Turkeys take trivia test

graphic November 27, 1996
Web posted at: 10:10 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Jeanne Moos

CALVERTON, New York (CNN) -- Some people take holiday traditions to the extreme. When they buy a Christmas tree, they go to a tree farm and cut one down themselves. When they get their Thanksgiving turkey, they go to the turkey farm and hand-pick their meal.

But not everybody who does that wants to slaughter it personally. "I don't want to see it, I just want to eat it," said one visitor to Miloski's Poultry Farm.

Another family didn't mind seeing the turkey after they reserved their holiday bird. They took their son A.J. out back to the farm so he could see the ones that were still alive. It was the first time the youngster had ever seen a live turkey.

You can go in there and look, but I doubt you'll find one with a personality.

-- proprietor Ann Miloski

Proprietor Ann Miloski maintains that what the birds lack in personality, they make up for in stupidity.


Is it true? We gave the turkeys a multiple choice quiz to find out. And in case you were wondering, we didn't make these questions up -- we got the turkey trivia quiz from the Butterball Online site on the Web.

"Gobble when you hear the correct answer," we told them. "What percentage of American homes eats turkey on Thanksgiving? Ninety percent -- that's right!"

Question number 2: Do turkeys have belly buttons? OK, we didn't actually ask the turkeys this one, but a Montreal school teacher did call the Butterball line to find out once. The line's answer: probably not, since they're hatched out of eggs.

Most of the questions the Butterball line gets aren't that challenging. They say the most commonly asked question is, "How should I thaw my turkey?"

Question number 3: What is the fleshy growth that's very long on male turkeys, and hangs down over the beak? Here are your options:

a. Gorp
b. Hackle
c. Grizzard
d. Snood

If you guessed that male turkeys like to shake their snood, you got it right -- and so did the turkeys. By the way, if you're wondering why these turkeys are white instead of the usual brown, like the turkey you see batting its eyes in the Thanksgiving Day parade, the Miloskis say it's largely a matter of food aesthetics. The brown ones have a bluish cast to their skin.

But regardless of lineage, the turkeys are all hen-pecked. We found the turkeys attacking sick or injured birds in the flock. It's mean behavior, but you can't blame them for not being in the Thanksgiving spirit.

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  • Last trivia question: Can turkeys fly?

    Yes and no. The wings are clipped on these domesticated birds, but wild ones fly. As for the age-old question, how dumb are they? The answer is the young ones really are dumb enough to drown by looking up with their mouths open in the rain. "Oh yeah, they do that," Ann Miloski confirmed.

    But as the Butterball hotline can confirm, turkeys aren't the only dummies. One guy called up after his stove broke down, and asked if he could finish cooking the turkey in his dishwasher.

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