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Did a 1984 Times-Picayune article kick off deep-fried turkey craze? |

Did a 1984 Times-Picayune article kick off deep-fried turkey craze?

Twenty years later, in her 2004 column announcing her retirement, Curry began: “’Deep Fry for the Big Bird’ was the headline on my first Thanksgiving food story 20 years ago. And by nightfall I had become known as the first food editor to burn down two houses.”

Curry’s first as a food writer was 1984. She notes she wrote the “premier story in the United States about a phenomenon that would eventually go nationwide. But in writing that first recipe, so tedious as it was, calling for a horse syringe and plastic rope, I managed to leave out one detail — DO NOT COOK NEAR THE HOUSE.


“So I was watching the evening news that Thanksgiving night and a New Orleans resident with house flaming behind him told a TV news reporter, ‘I’ll never use another one of those recipes.’ (I silently thanked him for not mentioning my name or publication.),” she wrote.

The New Orleanian and another in a nearby town fried their birds under a carport or overhang, spilling boiling oil from the propane-fired pot and setting the structures on fire.

“Since then, all recipes warn in clear and bold type to fry those turkeys far away from everything,” Curry wrote.

It’s something that seems to happen almost every year. (It’s a big vat of boiling oil, y’all. See safety tips below.)

Also, Curry, who still freelances as a food writer for New Orleans Magazine, noted that in March 2004, Chehardy, then a retired restaurateur and living in Tennessee, called her to “express amazement over how our exposure of the Cajun recipe had played a role in the national trend now acknowledged by the Butterball hot line as a cooking technique, and set off the creation of several lines of deep-fry pots and utensils, as well as the Cajun Injector, and is a story that has now run in newspaper food sections and magazines everywhere.”

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