Disney, P.I.

About the Column

As a Disney detective, Debra Peterson always packs her 'mickifying' glass. Her cases often take her to poorly lit, sparsely peopled, but still well-themed areas of Disney World, where she counters shenanigans with snark, and sometimes silliness, but most of all with keen insight and insouciant style. You're invited to accompany Debra each week as she solve baffling mysteries and pursues adventure. Quick, now, the Mouse is afoot!

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FROM: Disney P.I. Published As Uncovered

The Strangely Tasty Case of the Disney Turkey Leg

The Disney P.I. seeks to solve a mystery that has baffled many: what is the Disney turkey leg really made of? What addicting additive is injected into its stringy flesh? What cultural capon, this? Has someone finally gotten a leg up on Debra?

Having visited Disney many times on previous cases, one of the odd guest compulsions I've noticed is the need to sample Disney cult food. And is there anything odder than smoked turkey legs?

The turkey leg is certainly a big Disney experience. Maybe because of its size. At 1-1/2 pounds, and coming from Midwest turkeys that weigh 40-50 pounds, the turkey leg makes a formidable snack. A meal, really. And big enough to serve as a blackjack, probably handy for this guy I know name of Muggsy. Who would have thought a turkey leg might serve as a dangerous weapon?

But that's another story, far removed from what most guests do with a turkey leg.

This popular hunk of meat also has intrigued a client of mine, name of Davy, Davy Crockett, who calls himself "King of the Wild Frontier." He's willing to pay serious Disney Dollars if I can identify the source of the turkey leg's taste.

Tasting the Disney Turkey Leg

If the leg is made of turkey, that is. Some people speculate the legs aren't turkey at all but emu. The legendary urban legend investigator Snopes doesn't treat that claim seriously, so neither do I.

click an image to expand:

Turkey legs and popcorn, the real American Adventure!

Disney turkey leg, a deadly weapon? (Courtesy, Sifu Renka - Flickr)

The perfect shirt for Disney cult food undercover work. (Courtesy, Ricky Brigante - Flickr)

But reliable word on Magic Kingdom's Main Street does claim turkey legs don't taste like turkey. My meerkat informant says it tastes like chicken. He says that about bugs, too, so I don't always trust his reports.

Fieldwork is needed to crack this case. Because my P.I. cover is vegetarian, I rely on my partner Mikey Mouse. Even though witnesses are confused when they meet him, and he hates being called Mickey, Mikey always has my back. He's the Watson to my Sherlock, Archer to my Spade, Nick to my Nora. He's always up for a Disney food job.

We case a Frontierland food cart, although we could have visited any park. To my untrained nose the smell is distinctly meat-like, not the turkey of fondly-remembered Thanksgivings. My partner can't quite put his nose on it, either. Maybe I should have hired that bloodhound?

One thing about my sidekick. He's willing to sink his teeth into a case and he does so with gusto. No delicate first bites here, just an enthusiastic chomp and a slow chew.

While he savors the leg, I try not to look at its pink flesh. I'm keeping an eye on Polly, the Cast Member taking orders. She's very busy, and I suspect she knows more than how to count change.

I hear my partner swallow. Without taking my eyes off Polly, I ask, "What's it taste like?"

"You're not going to believe this. It tastes like ham."

"Ham? What do I look like, a maroon?"

"I tell you, it's ham. Juicy, salty ham. Slightly smoky. Smells like ham, too, now that I think of it."

Why Does the Turkey Leg Taste Like Ham?

Aha! The case is heating up. I belly up to the cart, and flash the Cast Member my license.

"Disney P.I. here, Ms. Polly."

"Oh, just call me Aunt. Everyone else does."

"Aunt... Polly... what do you know about these so-called turkey legs?"

"The smoked turkey legs? They're one of our most popular Disney foods! We sell more than 1.6 million drumsticks at Walt Disney World and Disneyland each year."

"Don't play coy with me. I have it on very good authority," I nod in Mikey's direction, "these turkey legs taste like ham."

"We hear that a lot. Many guests aren't familiar with smoked poultry, so they pick up on the salty flavor. We inject our legs with a salt water cure for moisture, then smoke them. Many guests crave the taste after their first leg; I hope Mikey likes it - you, too."

Mikey sucks on his fingers, nodding, but I'm immune to such sweet talk.

"Then why is the meat pink... like ham? Doesn't that strike you as a bit suspicious? I mean, Disney wouldn't want to promote a smoked Three Little Pigs food cart, now would they - even if people love ham?"

"I don't know about future food carts, but turkey legs have pink meat because of the six-hour smoking process. It flavors the legs and keeps the inside meat pink and moist. Just ask Marc Summers of Food Network's Unwrapped: Walt Disney World."

Huh. Could I have been on the wrong scent? Could the answer be as simple as a food-prep process instead of a case of mystery meat?

I look over to Mikey, who's sucking on bare bones in a state of Disney food euphoria. I raise one eyebrow.

"Turkey, ham, emu. It tastes gooood, that's what I know. But I think I should try another, just to make sure."

I end up telling Davy Crockett the turkey leg's taste comes from its recipe rather than a secret meat source. Davy then announces he's going on a turkey hunt, and asks if I know whether Disney has any recipes for bear meat. I tell him I'll look into it.

Until next time, consider me on the case.

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