Crowds line up for turkey buying tradition

HAMILTON TWP., N.J. - November 23, 2011

DiPaola's is famous for its fresh turkey, which loyal customers swear by.

"Frozen's alright during the rest of the year, but for Thanksgiving I think you need a fresh turkey," Dot Prutky said.

"It's easier. You don't have to worry about thawing it out and worry that on Thanksgiving morning it won't be ready," Andrea Shah said.

"It's more juicer, it's tender, and it's the consistency of the turkeys," Larry Martel said.

Within about a week or so the DiPaolas process and sell almost all of the 17,000 turkeys they've raised for the holidays. That's a lot of birds!

"It does get nutty. It's very hectic. But it's the most enjoyable week of the year," Art DiPaola said.

At Lee's Turkey Farm in East Windsor there's also a steady stream of people picking up their birds for Thursday.

Farmer Ronny Lee says his 3,000 turkeys are so tasty because of the corn, soy and grains they eat.

And while fresh turkeys can cost 3 or 4 times as much as frozen, he says people are willing to pay for top quality.

"The economy is not so hot, but I think Christmas is going to be the same way. When it comes to that meal, couple meals a year where it's Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter, people don't want to cut corners during the holidays," Lee said.

"It's a great big one. I didn't order in advance this year. I thought Thanksgiving was next week," Audrey Tate of Cranbury, New Jersey said.

Back at DiPaola's this customer like the idea of buying fresh from the farm.

"If local people support their farmers and buy local produce, they help these guys stay viable," Ralph Siegel of Hamilton said.

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