“There Are Breasty Turkeys, There Are Flat-Chested Turkeys…”

Talk about fowl being fair. In today’s New York Times, Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin gives us the behind-the-scenes dish on a November-issue tradition beloved among foodie mags and their readers: the Roast Turkey As Cover Model.

The poultry prettifying process—flipping the bird, as it were—is, the editor insists, a trying one. “I know it seems like, hey, what could be simpler than roasting a bird?” Cowin tells Stephanie Clifford. “But the perfect roast bird is a challenge.”

By which she means: the perfect-looking roast bird.

Turkey, as a model, is very much like a fashion magazine with fashion models. There are plump turkeys, and, I’m not kidding you, there’s skinny turkeys, there are chesty turkeys, breasty turkeys, there are flat-chested turkeys.” With one previous year’s model, “I was like, ‘I just need the breast to get a little bit higher.’

Ah, yes. No mention of whether the turkeys in question also have meth addictions, anger management issues, et cetera…but Cowin—in what has to be one of the best kickers in the annals of food porn-ery—does reveal one zeitgeistastic commonality between human supermodels and birds of a more literal variety: “We have enhanced the breasts of turkeys,” she admits.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.